Why is Spain offering citizenships?

Requirements are rather straightforward: you have to have been Christened with any one of the following surnames, and you have to be a sephardic Jew.

So why those two requirements?
http://www.sandiegored.com/noticias/50512/New-Spanish-Law-Offers-Citizenship-For-Those-With-These-Last-Names/pagina-2/

Christened Jews? You sure?

Sorry, I missed that part about sephardic Jews. Just what are they and how do they figure in Spanish history?

Addendum: Bob’s post above seems to explain it all.

I kind of wonder where the list of last names came from. Some I’ve never heard before in my life (and I’ve spend my career working with thousands of Latin Americans), and some are fairly common, but I don’t know anyone with any of these last names who is aware of any Sephardic descent. And of the three people of Sephardic Jewish descent that I can think of off the top of my head, none of their last names appear on the list.

Taborda, Taco, Tagarita, Tagarró, Tal, Talavera

Taco?! Now that’s what I call a Sephardic Jew!

This offer raises a lot of questions. I mean Spain’s offer is admirable, but what’s the practical benefit of the citizenship offer to Spain? Especially if these citizens need not reside in Spain. And about the names, Eva is right that a lot of these names are common in the Mexican-American community. Are these names the Sephardic equivalent of Franklin and Newman, where lots of Jews and gentiles have these names? Or are they closer to Shapiro or Goldberg, where almost all people with these names have some Jewish roots?

I don’t see any mention of “Christened” in the article, which is not exactly surprising! Presumably the_diego means “named”.

BTW it seems that the list of names is fake. I’m poking around right now to see what I can find, and it seems that no firm procedure has yet been created for the determination of citizenship under this plan (in Spanish; if I find something authoritative in English, I’ll post it).

Although the citizenship offer is real, apparently the list of specific names is fake.

And if you can wade through the Spanish, here’s the scoop from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how it would work. The law appears not to have been passed yet, nor is there any clear mechanism for adjudicating applications (or figuring out what would be enough evidence).

ETA: the list initially linked appears to be fake, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs link above references other previous lists of Sephardic names used for legal purposes:

“Igualmente, será admisible la justificación de la inclusión, o descendencia directa de persona incluida, en las listas de familias sefardíes protegidas por España a que hace referencia el Decreto Ley del 29 de diciembre de 1948 o en cualquier otra lista análoga. Se incluyen, además, aquellos que obtuvieron su naturalización por la vía especial del Real Decreto del 20 de diciembre de 1924. También será aceptada la justificación de vinculación o parentesco colateral del solicitante con personas o familias mencionadas en esos apartados.”

Again, I am posting it in Spanish with a link to the original source because I haven’t found anything this detailed in English yet. If I do, I will post it. Of course, if you beat me to it, by all means.

Well that’s just as well - since surnames generally propagate only through the male line, that would be a significantly sexist condition to put on it.

Still … 500 years? How many people can really trace their ancestors back that far? Maybe the Sephardic community is more into that kind of thing, but I know I wouldn’t have the least idea where by ancestors may or may not have been living in the late 15th century

I have known of modern Argentinean Jews, Turkish Jews, etc. who still speak Ladino in the house. They aren’t asking for documentary proof that your family originated in Spain, just that they are Sephardic Jewish by origin (which in the end basically amounts to the same thing).

And looking at the numbers a bit more closely…

There’s about 2,000,000 Sephardic Jews in the world today (per Wikipedia)
The article says that 200,000 were expelled in 1492.
There have been probably around 20 generations since then which is enough for, assuming an average of 2 surviving children per person, the average 1492 citizen to be an ancestor of a little over a million people today.

Isn’t it very very likely that ALL Sephardic Jews alive today have at least one and possibly many ancestors who were expelled from Spain in 1492?

ETA: I see your last sentence comes to the same conclusion as mine … so if the fact that the Spanish minister is expecting “about 150,000 people” to want to take advantage of it is effectively saying “only about 8% of the Sephardic community will probably care enough to take advantage of this” rather than "only that number will probably be eligible, then I guess that makes more sense. But using surnames, as such, as a marker still seems silly.

Well hey, if I were a Turkish Jew, for example, I might want a backup plan. This proposal, unlike other similar routes to Spanish citizenship, doesn’t require renouncing your existing citizenship.

As noted above, the list of names was fake. However, if there’s one record of the people who were originally dispossessed, it’s likely to be the 15th century tax rolls of the Spanish Crown (which I assume still exist somewhere.)

There was this little thing called the Spanish Inquisition, but I guess you didn’t expect that.

Presumably, the Spanish government has or will set the fees for this to cover the rather minimal cost of the paperwork, so it has no actual cost to Spain. But they get some international good publicity out of it. Also, some portion of those who do this might be inspired to visit Spain someday, thus bringing in tourist money.

Seems like Spain does fine out of this.

There’s some vague fambly lore in my family that our ancestors were kicked out of Spain during the Inquisition, and they moved to an area (now Austria or maybe Hungary), took a new family name, and became quite prosperous. But there’s no record of what the original family name was!

What should I do?

Well, a portion of those entitled to citizenship might decide to settle in Spain someday (or in another EU country) if things go pear-shaped in the country in which they happen to live now. In general, an EU passport is a desirable thing, exactly how desirable depending on what other passport you already hold.