#241: Dual citizenship, Daring jail break, Flying out of Tegel
And people keep leaving the church
Hello other soon-to-be-Germans (or not, your choice),
Germany’s interior ministry says Merry Christmas: The government will update its naturalization law soon after all — the three coalition members in December agreed the reforms and the proposed law will soon get a final reading in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, and become law, probably in spring.
You will be able to apply for German citizenship after living in-country five years, rather than eight, or even three if you have worked really, really hard at integration. This three-year thing gives me pause because it’s subjective, which means some bureaucrats will grant you the exemption if you just mutter “Guten Tag” while stumbling hungover through their door while others will expect that you wrote a doctoral thesis auf Deutsch, sung in a neighborhood choir for a decade and are in the process of finding homes for a litter of kittens you rescued from a barn fire.
Children born in Germany to foreign parents will also get German citizenship as long as at least one parent has lived here five years (rather than eight) and has permanent residency.
But most importantly for me — you can keep your original passport and add a German one to your collection. I joke that I want dual citizenship primarily to speed my passage through international arrivals but it also has a psychological effect — like Germany acknowledging your past but also saying, hey, thanks for being part of our attempt at society.
“Bitteschön,” I will say, as I rush through the contactless EU border controls with the rest of my family.
But after all that Christmas cheer I have a bit of Grinch news: Sure the federal government has cleared the way, but you then just have to (again) deal with Berlin bureaucracy or, at this point, Berlin’s lack bureaucracy — it’s inaccessible.
The new Berlin naturalization center opens in January and is already over-worked and understaffed but at least you will theoretically be able to submit citizenship applications again. And then wait.
On another note: A personal thank you from me for all that came to the News Quiz last Friday. It was really fun and will return in February (details to follow).
Have a good holiday break!
Remmo family wants everyone home for Christmas
Berlin’s crime families continually give holiday presents to a German media landscape that produces only trash when it comes to crime dramas. Members of the Remmo family Wednesday tried to free one of their own from a prison hospital in Buch, in northern Berlin, but were shooed away by correctional officers, according to Morgenpost. The Remmos attempted to free the unnamed family member from solitary confinement using grinders and other tools. The prison is over-capacity and doubles as a drug and alcohol rehab. The assailants were able to flee but officials said they have video of the attempt and hope to soon put the suspects on the other side of the bars.
Less church, more money
Berlin’s churchgoers gave any early present to their parishes this year: fewer people left the church in the first nine months of the year than last year but lots are still leaving. By the end of September, 16,708 people had officially left the church in Berlin, down from 18,018 last year. In addition to the obvious reasons for turning your back on scandal-ridden houses of worship, it also has tax advantages since Germany levies an approximate 9% church tax on income that funnels billions to recognized religious institutions. The Protestants lost 9,699 followers, the Catholics 6,876 and the Jewish and other small parishes were forced to say good-bye to a total 133. Berlin’s churches saw more people leave last year than ever before.
Fewer e-buses in Berlin
Less of a Christmas present for the environment though — public transport authority BVG will order just 50 out of a possible 344 new electric articulated buses (the ones with the bendy middle part) because it wouldn’t have space to store them, according to Tagesspiegel. 228 of the public transport authority’s 1,600 buses are currently electric, including 17 articulated buses. The BVG is unable to complete two new bus depots on time — like every other construction site in Berlin — and had to lowball the order. It’s not only a shame for the environment but also the BVG’s wallet since the federal government covers the extra costs of purchasing e-buses instead of their diesel cousins.
Some people still get to fly out of Tegel but you’re not one of them. A top Berlin court this week ruled that the 1,200 government helicopter flights out of the former airport’s military terminal each year can continue despite complaints from a landlord that the flights hurt the health of her tenants, according to RBB24. The German aviation authority granted the Bundeswehr, the German army, the right to operate the flights from the area, on the other side of Tegel’s runways from the main airport, in May 2021 until the necessary facilities are available at BER. The heliport at BER won’t be open until at least 2029.
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