NEWS

Citizenship draft law hailed by immigrants

The decision to introduce a new law that will grant citizenship to second-generation immigrants in Greece was yesterday applauded by both migrants and groups that promote their rights. The Cabinet approved on Tuesday a draft law that would allow children born in Greece to parents who are immigrants, one of whom must have been living in the country legally, to apply for Greek citizenship. «It is not just the issue of legalization. It is that we will no longer be invisible; our existence in Greece will be recognized,» Nikodimos Maina, a second-generation immigrant and the publisher of a magazine called Asante, told Kathimerini. «Now we will be in a position to do the best we can for ourselves and our parents,» he added. «We can help so that all together we can build a better country because this is the only one that we know and we want to stay here.» The draft law also proposes that foreign children who have attended the first three years of primary school in Greece or a total of six years of classes at Greek schools should be eligible for citizenship. «This heralds a new era for immigrants and Greek society, which can now be called a society of equal rights,» said lawyer Vassilis Chronopoulos, who runs the www.diavatirio.net site. «The bill shows clear progress from the simple resident's permits that were given to first-generation immigrants to the granting of citizenship, which solves the problems of the second generation.» The general secretary of the Greek Union for Human Rights (EEDA), Yiannis Ioannidis, said the bill was «revolutionary.» However, he added that the government must re-examine the 900-euro fee that immigrants must pay for long-term residence papers.

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