Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) has spoken out in favor of faster naturalization for people without a German passport in the capital. More than 800,000 people belonged to this group, she said on Thursday in the plenary session of the House of Representatives.

Many of them have lived and worked here for many years, their children went to school in Berlin. “Many meet the requirements to become German.” For those who want to, the procedures would have to be changed so that they could get German citizenship quickly.

Giffey criticized that the number of around 6,000 naturalizations per year was not enough for a metropolis like Berlin. “We should do everything we can to increase these numbers.” She recalled that she naturalized 3,000 people herself during her time as district mayor of Neukölln. “I know what it means to these people. This is a very special moment.”

In order to actually increase the numbers significantly, however, a naturalization center is necessary, as the Senate has already announced. She thinks criticism of it is wrong, said Giffey. The goal is a uniform, unbureaucratic and fair way of naturalization.

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From the point of view of the head of the Senate, a central office instead of decisions in twelve different districts is the better alternative. A Berlin without immigration is hard to imagine. “How poor would our city be!”

Giffey also spoke out in favor of making better use of the potential of people who come to Berlin from other countries. Especially people who have lived in Berlin for a long time need perspectives to find work. Here it is important to learn from the mistakes of the past and, for example, to facilitate access to language courses, training and study opportunities.

All factions of the Berlin House of Representatives commented on the subject. The CDU and FDP called for refugees to be integrated more quickly into the labor market and for foreign qualifications to be recognized more quickly. The CDU MP Björn Wohlert said that the German passport should be promoted more. However, clear requirements must apply for naturalization: “Language, work, liberal values ​​and also the acceptance of living our way”.

FDP faction leader Sebastian Czaja stated: “Stones are still being put in the way of people who want to live and work here”. Despite the shortage of skilled workers, the recognition of foreign school qualifications is still associated with major hurdles. The chairman of the SPD parliamentary group, Raed Saleh, praised the rapid registration and admission of Ukrainian refugees in Berlin: “Rapid integration, that is the goal. We’re finally doing it right together.” At the same time, refugees, some of whom had come to Berlin many years ago, must be offered a safe and permanent perspective to stay.

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Around 14,000 people, for example from Syria or Afghanistan, are currently living in Berlin with toleration status. “This status is undignified and insulting,” criticized Saleh. The Green MP Jian Omar also called for making it easier for refugees to “arrive and participate” in Berlin and to increase the number of naturalizations in the federal capital. They would have to arrive in society “as soon as possible”.

The AfD politician Kristin Brinker, on the other hand, warned against illegal immigration. Last year alone, more than 80,000 people without a German passport came to Berlin, many of them illegally.