From Iceland — Citizenship Decision For Albanian Family Now Pending

Citizenship Decision For Albanian Family Now Pending

Published December 18, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Paul Fontaine

The countdown now begins towards whether or not an Albanian family that was recently deported will be granted citizenship.

Vísir reports that the deported family, who are currently in Albania, have had to gather documentation for the parliamentary Judicial Affairs and Education Committee. This committee, which has already received the family’s application for citizenship, now has criminal background checks, birth certificates and their marriage certificate, amongst other documentation.

As such, the committee now has all the documentation they need from this family in order to decide whether or not draft and submit a bill which, if approved, would grant this family citizenship. Time is of the essence, as the Christmas break for parliament will begin soon.

As reported, sources close to RÚV have said that the family has a very good chance of receiving citizenship. Committee chairperson Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir told Vísir that they received an application for citizenship from the family, but did not comment on the actual willingness of committee members to accept the application. She added that while citizenship is officially granted in December and in the spring, the committee can make the decision to grant an individual or individuals citizenship at any time.

Several families from Albania and Macedonia, who had sought asylum in Iceland, were deported last week in the middle of the night. One of the Albanian families has a three-year-old son with cystic fibrosis, and an Icelandic doctor has said that deporting this family back to Albania is tantamount to a death sentence. This is the family in question that may now very likely receive Icelandic citizenship.

While the family originally appealed their case to the Immigration Appeals Board, UTL Director Kristín Völundardóttir – who has in the past compared asylum seekers to tourists looking for free lodging and food – told RÚV that the family withdrew their appeal and asked to be deported.

However, Vísir reports that the family only made this decision after they were told that their one-year-old son will not be receiving the medical attention he needs here in Iceland.

The deportation has already sparked strong criticism. Icelanders across social media are expressing anger and sadness at the decision, and politicians from numerous parties have chimed in, many of them saying the decision fills them with shame.

As it stands, there is some discrepancy between how the family says their case was handled, and their attorney’s take on the matter. While the father of the family told RÚV their own lawyer advised them to withdraw their appeal, the lawyer in question, Arndís A. K. Gunnarsdóttir, contends the opposite.

As such, a petition has been circulating calling for Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal to resign. It has gathered over 6,000 signatures at the time of this writing.

For her part, Vísir reports that Ólöf told parliament that she has sent formal letters to both the Directorate of Immigration and the Red Cross asking how these cases were processed.

“If a lack of trust builds up in sensitive cases such as this, which concerns the life and well-being of people, then we have a serious problem on our hands,” Ólöf told attendees of a Christmas mass held in Hafnarfjarðarkirkja church last night. “I am listening, and will do everything in my power to build that trust.”

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