President's "non-citizen" solution debated in Saeima

A bill to grant citizenship to non-citizens’ children at birth has been endorsed by the Saeima's Citizenship, Migration and Social Integration Committee on April 24.

But it is expected that the bill will spark heated debate as it makes its way through parliament. 

Almost 300 children have been born in Latvia with the status of non-citizens within the past five years. These are mostly descendants of Soviet-era immigrants. Parents have to specify that they want their children to become non-citizens, otherwise they are given Latvian citizenship at birth.

 "If the bill is adopted, from 2020 there'll be no new non-citizens born. There won't be any new non-citizens," said Jānis Pleps, an adviser to the president.

This is the most contested proposal of president Vējonis' term in office. The Saeima last September rejected an identical proposal, but signs are that now, most MPs are in favor of the initiative. 

However MPs from the New Conservative Party and National Alliance say that citizenship can't be bestowed as a gift.

"Non-citizens in Latvia have all they need to become citizens. Forcing citizenship on people with artificial means won't create loyalty to the state, and neither will it solve other matters," said MP Ritvars Jansons (National Alliance).

The bill was endorsed by the committee with eight votes 'for' and four 'against'.

Within the next few weeks the bill will enter the agenda of the Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee, which will work with MPs' proposals and put the bill forward for vote in the parliament. 

Read more about Latvia's "non-citizens" and how their special legal status – they can't vote – came to be HERE.

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