Irish Favor Birthright Citizenship

By Maggie Holland, Editorial Assistant
January / February 2019

As other western countries are endorsing populist agendas on tightening immigration policy, Ireland is voicing its opposition to such restrictions, overwhelmingly in favor of reinstating birthright citizenship.

A Sunday Times poll found that 71 percent favored birthright citizenship, while 19 percent were opposed and 10 percent undecided. Three days later, a proposal on the matter passed a preliminary vote in the Irish Senate.

If passed, the law would grant citizenship to anyone born in Ireland who subsequently lives in the country for at least three years, regardless of his or her parents’ citizenship status. This would reverse a 2004 referendum in which 79 percent of voters supported the removal of birthright citizenship.

This drastic shift in public opinion on the matter has followed a few high-profile cases concerning various children’s citizenship statuses.

Although popular among the public, the bill is opposed by the Irish government because of fears that people living illegally in Britain will move to Northern Ireland to have a baby, securing Irish citizenship for their child and residency for themselves, or British citizens will use the same tactic to maintain free movement around the European Union once Brexit is finalized.

The senator who introduced the bill, Ivana Bacik, is confident it will pass in the Senate, but less certain about its prospects in the Dáil, the lower house and principal chamber of the Irish legislature. ♦ Maggie Holland

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