Our third child is a foster child. His natural parents are foreign citizens. So, though he was born in Italy, his nationality is not Italian. Italian laws follows the "jus sanguinis" principle not the "jus soli" one (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_sanguinis for further details).
Every foreign citizen resident in Italy is obliged to obtain a residence permit. A foreign citizen without a valid residence permit loses many of her rights: for example, she does not receive a full health assistance, she can not work, nor attend a secondary school..
So does our younger child, resident in a country he was born in and that he never left: he needs the permit.
Yesterday morning my wife went to the local Police headquarters to collect his renewed annual residence permit. Due to some silly paper problem, a surname mismatch, his previous residence permit expired on January 2010 and could not be renewed until now. So last year he lived in Italy as a little "sans papier".
The line in front of the Police building was too long, and my wife was not allowed to enter the immigration desk in time.
Today my wife went there again. She was well in advance of the desk opening time. But not enough: still the line was very long, too many people waiting. A firm policeman at the gate told her: "No way to get in!". She firmly protested, and I guarantee that she knows how to stand up for her rights, and some hours later she was left in.
I should add that each foreign citizen is obliged to collect his residence permit in person: even though he is a sick person or a newborn child... So the long queue in front of the Police building was composed by whole families: elderly, adult and newborn members. I presume they all woke up early just to line up there, well ahead the desk opening time and spent part of the cold winter night standing outside.
Today my wife and our curly haired happy child eventually got to the immigration desk. A polite and sorry officer promptly announced that their visit was useless, as only a civil servant in person from the town hall can collect the document. And, for sure, the child should attend the meeting, too.
But another surprise was behind the corner. The printing ink of the renewed residence permit has still not dried up, but that document validity expires on... January 2011. So game over, let's start the circus again.
This is contemporary Italy. This is our respect to foreign citizens living and working here. Do they really deserve that? I do not think so.
I am looking forward to a new Renaissance period and my wife and me are willing to put our little contribution into that. Who wants to joint the effort?