Tue, Oct 04, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Passage of spouse naturalization reforms urged

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Controversy over the naturalization of Chinese spouses should not hold up progress on legal amendments covering other foreign spouses, reform advocates said yesterday as they questioned the resolve of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to push for changes after party lawmakers boycotted cross-caucus negotiations.

The Taiwan TransAsia Sisters Association, Labor Rights Association, Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation and other groups held a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, during which they shouted slogans critical of the DPP and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) for politicking over proposed amendments to the Nationality Act (國籍法) and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例).

After DPP members of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee proposed amendments to the Nationality Act to ease the naturalization process for foreign spouses, their KMT counterparts proposed reducing the number of years it takes for Chinese spouses to become naturalized Republic of China (ROC) citizens, which the committee’s KMT co-convener attempted to push through the committee in a surprise evening session.

In the wake of the controversy over the KMT’s action, both amendments have languished in “cross-caucus negotiations,” the advocates said yesterday, adding that the DPP boycotted a second round of talks last week.

National Chengchi University law professor Bruce Liao (廖元豪) said he was worried that the DPP’s actions show that it does not intend to pass the legislation, given that the KMT minority on the committee is unable to force a “coupling” or block passage of the proposals.

“The two sets of amendments do not have to be tied — they could be decoupled and move forward at different rates,” Liao said.

“What we are concerned about is that they [the DPP] do not care whether any legislation passes,” he said.

“Because the DPP is the majority, it can push legislation through, but it appears to be willing to take advantage of this opportunity to make a political point,” he said.

Liao also criticized KMT legislators for now promoting a reduction in residency requirements, which the KMT had not been willing to pass in the years that it held the legislative majority.

“The advantage the KMT gets from this controversy is that it can accuse the DPP of hypocrisy in its concern for human rights, but why did it not pass this when it was in the majority?” he said.

Labor Rights Association executive director Wang Chuan-ping (王娟萍) said that there are disadvantageous provisions in both parties’ amendments, citing a proposal to require Chinese spouses provide financial statements and take a civics test.

Taiwan TransAsia Sisters Association executive secretary Hung Man-chi (洪滿枝) criticized one proposed provision that would indefinitely extend the length of time during which a foreign spouse’s ROC citizenship could be revoked.

“Spouses already undergo extensive review before they are granted national ID cards,” Hung said.

A lack of limits on official discretion would make it easy to rule that a marriage was “falsified” — allowing citizenship to be revoked — in the event of a divorce, even if the couple were married for a decade, Hung said.

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