Sat, Nov 03, 2007 - Page 4 News List

NGO alliance demands citizenship reform

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two members of the Coalition Against Financial Requirements for Immigrants yesterday act out a skit at the legislature, wearing masks with the faces of Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou. The coalition appealed to both presidential candidates to abolish the financial threshold for citizenship applications.

PHOTO: CNA

An alliance of 37 non-governmental organizations yesterday asked Democratic Progressive Party and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidates to promise to abolish the financial threshold for citizenship applications if elected.

The Nationality Law (國籍法) requires that immigrant spouses submit proof showing that they have at least NT$410,000 (US$12,000) during their citizenship application process.

"My wife cannot be naturalized because I don't have NT$410,000 in my bank account, and she may be deported if I die," Chen Ming-chih (陳明致), husband of an immigrant spouse, told a press conference. "I feel really sorry for her."

Hsia Hsiao-chuan (夏曉鵑), a Graduate Institute for Social Transformation Studies professor at Shih Hsin University said "the Nationality Law is basically telling immigrant spouses -- no money no citizenship and it makes no sense."

According to Wang Chuan-ping (王娟萍), president of the Labor Rights Association, there are around 100,000 immigrant spouses with Taiwanese citizenship, and another 300,000 without.

"Government statistics suggest that more than 70 percent of households in Taiwan have less than NT$500,000 in their bank accounts -- this shows that it's even difficult for locals to save up," she said.

Wang said the alliance hoped to pressure the two presidential candidates into changing the law.

"These immigrant spouses and their families could form a voting bloc of about 1 million people," she said. "Whichever presidential candidate would support abolishing the financial threshold will have the votes of these 1 million people in next year's presidential election."

Wang said the alliance has sent their appeal to the two candidates and asked them to reply within two weeks.

The alliance is also collecting signatures from legislative candidates who support their campaign.

"We'll make public the list of legislative candidates supporting our demand in December, so that immigrant spouses and their families may vote accordingly," she said.

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