I don’t know if we have a lot of crossover readers from Tapped, but in the context of otherwise mostly reasonable remarks in two posts about the London bombings, they missed something important.
Writes Garance Franke-Ruta:
“Reading Sarah Wildman’s post on ‘the difficulty European Muslims have had in being considered “European,” and the unease that white Europeans have with those they consider foreign,’ reminds me, sadly, of just how intractable a problem the European definition of nationhood is. And it is really a problem to define nationality by bloodlines, rather than by birth, and at the same time have national policies that lead to substantial and rapidly growing immigrant populations. It is a very big problem, because it creates an entire second-tier caste of national residents who are non-citizens, and unable to become citizens, rather than integrating new immigrants into social and cultural life and assimilating them within a generation or three…” (Emphasis added.)
She goes on to cite Germany as one of the countries with a particular problem.
And Sarah Wildman’s post also mentions the German case in the context of larger questions:
“the largely unemployed, undereducated, masses of Muslims — les jeunes de banlieues — living in the suburban ghettos that ring major French cities, who may in fact have been born in Europe but exist in a peculiar citizenship limbo. (France, for example, like Germany, does not automatically grant citizenship to those born on her soil.)”
The issues surrounding the integration of Muslim immigrants are important ones. But the question of citizenship as posed here isn’t true for Germany, and it hasn’t been true since before George W. Bush became president of the United States. And getting that fact wrong undermines a major part of the posts’ argument.
Since 1 January 2000, children born to non-German parents who have been legal residents of the country for at least eight years are automatically entitled to German citizenship. Clearly this is not as generous as the American approach, but it is a significant step. (Australia, for example, appears in 1986 to have moved away from granting citizenship to everyone born there.)
Further, the conditions for acquiring German citizenship were also eased, and over the last five years, approximately 800,000 people (equal to two-thirds of the population of metro Munich) have taken on German citizenship. Children born in Germany to these new citizens are automatically citizens as well. This provision has made 200,000 children into citizens over the same period.
I wrote to the authors, but who knows if they even read the e-mail, since Tapped almost never posts corrections. So I mention it here. I’m also curious about citizenship in other European countries. Have there been recent changes?