The French government plans to fast-track citizenship for 700 foreign, essential workers who have dedicated their lives to helping the European nation fight the coronavirus.
Junior Minister for Citizenship Marlène Schiappa announced that the third-largest European country will confer citizenship upon store clerks, child care professionals, domestic workers and health care professionals, according to The New York Times.
"Foreign workers gave their time and swung into action for all of us during the COVID crisis," Schiappa told The Times. "It is now up to the Republic to take a step toward them."
An overwhelming 3,000 people responded to the invitation.
The French government has granted citizenship to over 70 candidates thus far, The Times reported. There are still 693 applications pending for the last step in the naturalization procedure.
Immigration specialists were commanded to reduce the five-year residency period to two years for the foreigners who rendered services during the pandemic.
"Some foreigners swung into action and were particularly exposed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic," Schiappa wrote in a letter to French authorities at the time.
"They actively participated in the national effort, with dedication and courage," she added.
Schiappa took to Twitter to share the NYT article with her countrymen. The politician's efforts, the story and the new initiative garnered mixed reviews.
"The New York Times welcomes the granting of French citizenship to foreigners who worked on the front line during the confinement," she wrote.
"Proud to welcome these new compatriots who have demonstrated their attachment to France."
Le New-York Times salue l’attribution de la citoyenneté française aux étrangers qui ont travaillé en première ligne pendant le confinement.
Fierté d’accueillir ces nouveaux compatriotes qui ont démontré leur attachement à la France ???????? https://t.co/Vb8eH6fqal
— ???????? MarleneSchiappa (@MarleneSchiappa) December 23, 2020
One person praised the country's decision and Schiappa.
"Bravo, and thank you for what you are doing for these French people who have been on the front line against this virus to best help patients. Proud of them! This is the France I love," he wrote.
Bravo et merci pour ce que vous faites pour ces français ayant été en première ligne contre ce virus pour aider au mieux les malades. Fier d’eux ! Voilà la France que j’aime !
— Jérémy Defrocourt ???????????????? (@JDefrocourt) December 23, 2020
"Bravo," another tweet read.
— Cyrille Trignac ☀️ (@cyrilletrignac) December 23, 2020
However, some French citizens responded on Twitter in opposition to Schiappa's tweet.
One person expressed that French citizenship wasn't for sale.
"The reward for a good job..The reward is the salary," he wrote. "Obtaining nationality, Madam Minister, should be the reward for the love of France. If you sell off nationality, it means little to you."
La récompense d'un bon travail… La récompense, c'est le salaire.
L'obtention de la nationalité, Madame le Ministre, ce devrait être la récompense de l'amour de la France. Si vous bradez la nationalité, c'est qu'elle est peu de chose à vos yeux.
— Jean-Christophe Navech (@jcnalby) December 23, 2020
Another man, who is seemingly a part of the fast-track citizenship program, wrote that he had made it to the final stage but was now in limbo.
"I testified in this interview because my procedure has indeed been accelerated. But now it is at a standstill following the details that I communicated to you by email and on Instagram, hoping for an intervention from you," he tweeted.
@MarleneSchiappa J’ai témoigné dans cet interview car ma procédure a effectivement été accélérée mais maintenant elle est à l’arrêt suite aux détails que je vous ai communiqué par mail et sur Instagram en espérant une intervention de votre part …
— Aziz Youssef (@azizyoussef90) December 23, 2020
To date, France has over 2.5 million cases of the deadly virus, and has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world, according to Worldometers coronavirus tracker.