Thu, May. 18, 2006

Immigration Compared

HG - Washington.   On May 16, 2006, the German non-profit political Friedrich Ebert Foundation arranged a discussion about immigration policies in Germany and the United States. Lale Akgün, member of the Federal Diet, Bundestag, and California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez presented very personal perceptions of the current legal situation in the two countries. WTOP Radio presenter Mark Plotkin moderated the event.

The speakers focused, among other things, on different citizenship requirements. While a person born in the United States automatically becomes an American citizen, a person born in Germany is a German citizen only if a parent is German or has lived for at least eight years in Germany, §4 of the Citizenship Act, Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz, StAG. Immigrants may acquire German citizenship through naturalization, §§8 to 16 StAG. On May 5, 2006, the ministers of the interior of the states, Länder, compromised in tightening the requirements for naturalization. In Germany, dual citizenship constitutes an exception. By contrast, Ms. Sanchez appeared to consider dual citizenship somewhat less unusual in the United States.

In addition to these rules, §4 of the Residence Act, Aufenthaltsgesetz, provides for three different types of German residence permits to afford immigrants several rights that make citizenship dispensable in many cases.

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