Letter. You should give a clear and strong signal to far-right groups by voting for a measure that would recognize the rights of the weakest of us, and that would strengthen the democratic antibodies within Italian society as a whole.

Open letter to Italian Senate: Don’t betray 800,000 ‘invisible children’

Dear Senators, we are the Movimento degli Italiani Senza Cittadinanza [Movement of the Italians Without Citizenship], who have organized important initiatives, such as the Citizenship Day on Oct. 13, in order to build consensus around the reform of the existing legislation on citizenship, moving to a system based on the so-called ius soli temperato [the right to citizenship by being born in Italy, with conditions] and ius culturae [right to citizenship for those who receive an Italian education].

Along with over 800,000 “invisible children,” 9 percent of the school population, every day we are forced to live with the shortcomings of Law 91/1992, as we were born or brought up in this country but we are not recognized by the state for what we are: Italians.

That is why the recent rescheduling of Legislative Decree 2092, in a schedule so full of other commitments and with such a small number of parliamentary sessions available, fills us with sadness and bewilderment.

Dear Senators, as you have supported the current government coalition in the past, we are asking you to urge your leadership to bring citizenship reform to the floor.

With full respect to the prerogatives of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who, on several occasions in recent months, has personally committed himself to passing the reform before the end of this legislature, we share the notion that the only strategy to ensure its timely approval, given the uncertainty of the vote count and the abnormal number of amendments tabled by the opposition, is to resort to a confidence motion.

It is true that, according to Eurostat, Italy has had the highest number of new citizens among European Union countries in recent years — 202,000 in 2016.

However, further data show that not only is the pension system benefitted (with €8 billion in paid social security contributions, and a net positive balance of €5 billion in the coffers of the INPS) thanks to the crucial contributions of our parents, brothers and sisters, and of those of us who have already gotten access to the labor market, but also that, both before and especially after obtaining citizenship, the population of foreign origin shows an increasing tendency to spread itself out in the European Union in search of better opportunities, so that the number of jobless foreign citizens who are resident in Italy continues to drop.

It is true that, despite the efforts of so many — elected officials, activists, journalists, intellectuals and writers — the press continues to publish polls indicating that public opinion is strongly divided on the content of the reform.

It is equally true that there have been many errors in how this reform has been presented, and that we have to keep in mind the dominant narrative for more than 20 years, which has tended to criminalize migrants, refugees and Italians of foreign origin.

Finally, please be aware of a final aspect that has a particularly strong significance for us.

Now joining the fight against citizenship reform, forces animated by feelings of hatred and intolerance that are foreign to the principles of a civil society are increasingly polluting the political debate, with destructive effects on public discourse and on social media.

You should give a clear and strong signal to these groups by voting for a measure that would recognize the rights of the weakest of us, and that would strengthen the democratic antibodies within Italian society as a whole.

Do not betray the over 800,000 children who are waiting for this law, and do not betray their fellow classmates and teachers, who are just as eager to live in a country that recognizes the school as the most important place for teaching active citizenship.

Do not betray a people that has always been asking you for a more equal, cohesive and united Italy to face the challenges of globalization.

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