New Italian Interior Minister to Illegals: 'Pack your bags'
If the European Union didn't think Italy's new populist government was serious about getting tough on illegal immigration, new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini disabused them of that idea.
"The party is over for illegal immigrants," Salvini said at a June 2 rally in Vicenza. "They will have to pack their bags, in a polite and calm manner, but they will have to go. Refugees escaping from war are welcome, but all others must leave."
No government official from western europe has spoken so openly about dealing with the hundreds of thousands of economic refugees from North Africa who have arrived in Italy in the last 5 years. Salvini's words must have been a splash of cold water for the rest of the EU.
Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has vowed to cut aid money for migrants and to deport those who illegally are in the country.
"Open doors in Italy for the right people and a one-way ticket out for those who come here to make trouble and think that we will provide for them," Salvini said in the Lombardy region, home to a quarter of the total foreign population in Italy. "One of our top priorities will be deportation."
Salvini, leader of the nationalist League (Lega) party, formed a new coalition government with the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) on June 1. The government's program, outlined in a 39-page action plan, promises to crack down on illegal immigration and to deport up to 500,000 undocumented migrants.
There are logistical and legal problems that the new government must overcome to reach that goal, but Salvni made it clear the days of unfettered immigration are over:
According to Italian law, for example, at least two agents must escort each deportee in an elaborate operation. The newspaper La Repubblica described a recent deportation operation of 29 Tunisians, who were escorted on an aircraft chartered from Bulgaria by 74 government agents, including doctors, nurses, armed police and unarmed plainclothes officers, at a total cost of €115,000 ($135,000), or €3,965 per deportee.
At this rate, the new government's pledge to deport 500,000 migrants would cost Italian taxpayers nearly €2 billion ($2.3 billion).
The previous government allotted around five billion euros to pay for expenses related to the migrant crisis in 2018: 20% is for rescues at sea; 15% for health care, and 65% for migrant reception centres, which currently host around 200,000 people.
The new government has said that it wants to divert some of the funds allotted for the reception centers to pay for deportations. In addition to the financial costs, Italy faces legal hurdles that make mass deportations nearly impossible.
Article 10, Paragraph 2 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights states:
"No one may be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
This law effectively prevents Italy and other EU members from deporting migrants to most countries in the Muslim world.
This statement by Salvini could have been made by any populist politician in Europe:
"Enough of Sicily being the refugee camp of Europe. I will not stand by and do nothing while there are landings after landings of migrants. We need deportation centres.
"There are not enough homes or jobs for Italians, let alone for half the African continent. We need to use common sense."
Imagine that! Common sense policies to deal with the flood of refugees. The rise of populist, anti-immigrant governments and parties all over Europe attest to the fact that EU citizens desire common sense policies as well.
There will be tremendous pushback by Germany and France against this, and other policies the eurosceptic Italian government will try to enact. But you have to believe that every pro-illegal immigrant politician in Europe has noticed what's happening in Italy and fully realize the consequences of their continued support for refugee policies that are changing the face and culture of Europe.