Italy postpones hotly-contested immigrant citizenship law

ROME - Italy's government will not try to push through a law that would grant citizenship to the children of immigrants in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Sunday.
The draft law faced opposition from politicians including members of a small centrist group which supports Gentiloni's Democratic Party's (PD) slim majority in the upper house Senate.
A government source said earlier this month the measure would be put to a confidence vote, which speeds up passage of legislation but obliges the government to resign if it loses. The premier squashed that possibility on Sunday.
"Given the urgent deadlines in the Senate calendar and the difficulties that have emerged in some parts of the majority, I don't think the conditions are right to approve the draft law on citizenship for foreign minors born in Italy before the summer break," Gentiloni said in a statement.
Under the proposed law, children born in Italy to non-Italians, or who arrive before their 12th birthdays and spend at least five years in formal education, could be declared citizens.
Immigration is one of the thorniest issues facing Italian politicians, who have had to deal with the arrival of more than half a million mainly sub-Saharan Africans by boat from Libya over the last three years.
Opponents proposed some 48,000 amendments to the citizenship law by the time it reached the Senate for discussion in June, more than 1-1/2 years after it was approved in the lower house. A scuffle broke out and two senators were slightly injured.
Gentiloni said the law, which would require one or both parents to have a long-term residence permit before they could apply for citizenship, was "just".
"I remain personally committed, as does the government, to approving it in the autumn," he said.