The German Chancellor: “Germany has become the country of hope for immigrants”
The Free Democratic Party: “Now is not the time to ease citizenship procedures”
The Minister of Interior: “Those who oppose the reform must reach the twenty-first century”
The Christian Social Union: “This reform thwarts the immigrants’ integration plan”
The Chairwoman of the Federal Employment Agency: “Germany can only get by with massive immigration”
Some immigrants want to obtain the German passport in order to enjoy full citizenship rights like Germans. Others want to carry it in order to enjoy freedom of movement. However, Arab immigrants in general and the refugees among them in particular want to obtain a German passport so that they can return to their home countries … visit their parents … breathe the air of the motherland, they want to get it to protect them from their countries and to spare them the oppression of those in power.
For an Arab refugee, the German passport is not merely a search for protection with a new nationality, but rather a longing for the homeland, to which there is no guarantee of their return unless they hold a foreign passport… and a strong one.
As soon as an immigrant sets foot on German soil, he dreams of the day when he will carry the red passport (the German passport), hoping to seize a deferred opportunity for a decent and just life that his country denied him.
Every immigrant to Germany, whether he is a refugee, an asylum seeker, a student, or even someone who came to work on a temporary contract, strives to obtain German citizenship. It ranked first in the ranking of the most powerful and effective passports in the world, according to the Henley Passport Index for the year 2021, which is based on the number of countries – 190 countries – that German passport holders can enter without the need for obtaining a prior visa.
The new German citizenship law, whose draft was sent by the German Ministry of the Interior last January to other ministries for information and coordination, opens a door of new hope for every immigrant, in the approach of fulfilling the dream of citizenship, reducing waiting periods, easing conditions, and making the nearly five million people living in Germany without a German passport for over ten years, according to figures from the Integration and Migration Advisory Board, in suspense.
The new citizenship law, whose draft was presented by German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, and the current Olaf Scholz government agreed to draft its new provisions in 2021, carried amendments, the most important of which is the possibility for immigrants to obtain German citizenship after five years of residence in Germany instead of eight years according to the current law. Not only that, but an immigrant can also apply for citizenship after only three years, in the event that he is able to prove that he has made progress in integration through language learning, education, and work, whether with a salary or volunteer work.
As for the children of immigrants, the new draft law has been completely fair to them, and they got the best chance within its provisions. One could argue that the new law considered them children of Germany, as it was stated in the proposed amendments: “Children born in Germany obtain citizenship automatically if one of the parents at least has lived in Germany legally for five years or more.”
Despite the advantages of German citizenship, many of those who have met all the conditions for obtaining it refuse to apply for it categorically, because of their absolute refusal to give up their original citizenship. The current citizenship law prohibits dual citizenship, except with a few exceptions. Therefore, anyone applying for German citizenship must give up their other citizenship. Meanwhile, the new law made things easier and relieved the immigrants of the hardship of having to give up the last thing that emotionally ties them to their countries, “their first citizenship,” by abolishing the requirement to give up the citizenship of an immigrant’s country of origin and allowing him to hold dual citizenship.
With regard to the conditions for integration, which the current citizenship law stipulates that immigrants must obtain at least B1 level in the German language and finish the integration course as a condition for applying for citizenship, which was burdensome for immigrants over sixty years of age, this has been facilitated in the draft of the new law.
For persons over the age of 67, the naturalization and language test requirements will be oral only.
Of course, the immigrants received the new law with welcome and joy, especially within the Turkish community, who were not allowed by law to hold dual citizenship, which forced many of them to give up their original citizenship, or not to apply for German citizenship in the first place, although many of them have lived and worked in Germany for nearly half a century. This was evident in the statements of the head of the Turkish community, Gökay Sofuoğlu, commenting on the draft law, in which he welcomed the new law, describing it as a quantum leap, explaining that the current German citizenship law no longer reflects our reality, and that it was necessary to achieve a certain level of equality and thus broadening the base of political participation.
With moving words, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed his support for the new citizenship law in a video speech published on November 26, during which he called for facilitating the procedures for obtaining German citizenship, since Germany is a land of hope for immigrants, stressing that the immigrants who came to Germany in the past decades, men, women and children, have contributed greatly to making the German economy strong, and in his words:“All these great, wonderful men and women deserve better systems to naturalize them.”
As for the German Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, who belongs to the Social Democratic Party (SPD), she confirmed in previous statements that facilitating the naturalization procedures for her is tantamount to achieving justice, especially the naturalization of people who belong to the generation of migrant workers, explaining that facilitating the naturalization procedures would attract employment and advance the economy in the face of the lack of skilled labor that weighs heavily on the country’s economy, especially with severe pressure on the pension systems in light of the increasing age of the population.
On the other hand, many prominent entities, parties, and individuals in German political life have rejected the draft law, as is the case with any new draft law.
The most prominent opposition to the new law comes from the Christian Democratic Party (CDU), arguing that the new law encourages illegal immigration.
As for Alexander Dobrindt, leader of the regional group in the Christian Social Union (CSU), he objected, arguing that easing the conditions for citizenship in the new law and granting citizenship to immigrants carelessly would thwart the immigrants’ integration plan, expressing his rejection of the draft law.
“For the free democrats, there will be no easing in the conditions for German citizenship,” with these categorical words, Bijan Djir-Sarai, Secretary-General of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the smallest party in the “traffic light” coalition, expressing his total rejection of the law, stressing that now is not the right time to ease citizenship procedures, especially in light of the lack of progress in deporting immigrants who were denied asylum, and combating illegal immigration.
On the same note, and based on the coalition government’s failure to implement the condition of limiting illegal immigration and deporting rejected asylum seekers, but in a more eloquent manner, Christian Lindner, leader of the Free Democratic Party FDP (liberal) and his well-known ability to maneuver, stressed that anyone who works seriously and integrates well In German society has the right to obtain citizenship, and he added in previous statements: “As for people who do not want to integrate, they must leave the country”, adding that Germany must become a modern immigration country, but by directing immigration to the labor market, and not to social security systems. In reference to immigrants who receive social assistance, and in a disgraceful generalization and neglect of the role of migrant workers in the advancement of the German economy.
For her part, Filiz Polat, a member of parliament and spokeswoman for migration policy for the Green Party, rejected the position of the Free Democratic Party, the smallest partner in the ruling traffic light coalition, and clearly stressed that in no way can a link be created between the two issues of immigration and the deportation of rejected asylum seekers as the Free Democrats do.
After reviewing the provisions and reactions to the new citizenship law, we find that it is illogical for experienced politicians, who are supposed to know very well the nature of the country whose policies and laws they control, to reject a law that allows facilitating the lives of immigrants and settling them in a country in which the Chairwoman of the Federal Employment Agency Andrea Nahles stated that Germany needs an annual intake of 400,000 skilled workers, and that the demographic change in the country does not give us a scenario in which we can get by without massive immigration.
There is no more appropriate response to these politicians stuck in ancient times, other than the German Interior Minister’s satirical speech against those who oppose the law under the pretext of fear of illegal immigration and other arguments, and in reference to their petrification and their backwardness in regard to the requirements of current life in Germany and in the world, when she said: “They have to eventually arrive at the 21st century.”
Strangely enough, according to statistics issued by the German Federal Statistical Office, more than a quarter of Germans are descendants of foreign immigrants, at least one of whose parents is of foreign origin and does not hold the German citizenship at birth.
If German society is built on immigration and immigrants, why do opponents of the new citizenship law find it too much for immigrants to dream of obtaining the red passport?