Kalenga Maweja, originally from Congo and now in Lansing, shakes hands and accepts citizenship paperwork after being sworn in and naturalised as a US citizen as 25 people from 18 different countries became official US citizens at the capitol in Lansing, Michigan, Wednesday, December 4. – ap
Turkish or German? For millions of immigrants’ sons and daughters who grew up speaking German, immersed in German culture, yet feeling the emotional pull to ancestral roots, it’s been a tough choice.
Germany as a rule doesn’t allow immigrants who receive German citizenship to keep their old passports, except for EU and Swiss nationals or citizens of countries like Iran that don’t allow people to surrender their nationality.
The rule has been most onerous to the more than three million-strong Turkish community, which sprang up in the postwar boom years when Germany was hungry for labour, because of many immigrants’ reluctance to weaken ties with their parents’ homeland.
Now, Germany’s incoming government is promising to end the requirement for Germany-born children of immigrant parents to choose just one nationality between their 18th and 23rd birthdays.
“My roots are in Turkey, that’s clear,” said 18-year-old Okan Ertas, the son of Turkish immigrants and an aspiring airline pilot. “But I was born here and you’re at home where you were born. This is my home.”
Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats extracted the citizenship change from the conservative Merkel as part of their price for joining a new government, expected to take office this month. After that, the coalition must draft legislation on the change and win parliamentary approval.