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What I'm specifically referring to is the distinction between the jus solis and jus sanguinis, i.e. those who base the right to citizenship on where people were born and grew up vs. those who base it on blood. The jus soli tradition has been primarily that of France, Britain, and the various immigrant Commonwealth states.  Much of the rest of Europe traditionally relied on the jus sanguinis, though in most cases it was a moot point in practice since immigration was historically minimal. The Germans actually switched to a very hardline ethnocentric citizenship in the late Kaiserreich, appalled at all those horrible Slavs and Ostjuden that were flooding in (in actual fact many of both groups came from Prussia's eastern provinces rather than from abroad but whatever, it's perception that counts)  That law remained in effect until a few years ago. If you were the descendant of German speakers who moved to Romania back in the Middle Ages, you had the right to citizenship. If you were a 'Turk' born and raised in Germany by parents who had lived there since childhood, you had no such right.

 There is no necessary correlation between the work and residency rights conferred by a green card, and the naturalization laws. Every country I know of has permanent residency status - that's what most of those 'foreigners' in Germany have. In Switzerland you have the 'C Permit' which gives you permanent residency and full employment and social benefit rights - plus the right to apply for, but not necessarily get citizenship, if you meet a set of criteria.  The countries with what I call 'normal' citizenship laws lay out the preconditions for citizenship, and if you meet them, you have the right to citizenship.

To give an example of why I say the old approach is so screwed up.  In the late eighties there were about 1.6 million people from Turkey in Germany, of those, even back then, some 400,000 had been born there. Almost none had citizenship. By the time Red-Green came to power that number had gone above two million, with the proportion of Germany born and bred even higher. Still, almost none had citizenship.   Instead, as it is there are 1.9 million Turkish citizens living as permanent citizens in Germany, over one third of them are German born. That does not include the the 700,000 or so German citizens of Turkish descent.(2003) A majority of the 'Turkish' German citizens are, I believe, also German born. If the Schroeder government had not changed the laws, in the face of vociferous opposition from the CDU/CSU, we'd be now seeing third generation 'foreigners' reaching adulthood in Germany with close to half of all 'Turks' having been born in Germany.

From what I understand you are an immigrant yourself, here in the US.  Would you find it normal if your grandchildren were considered foreigners a half century after you came to the US?

PS. If you have an interest in the historical development of the two concepts of citizenship and nationhood from the nineteenth century to the eighties I'd recommend:

Brubraker, Rogers Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany Cambridge, MA 1992

by MarekNYC on Mon Sep 26th, 2005 at 02:36:55 AM EST
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