Date: Tuesday, 05 June 2018
Italy’s new interior minister, the Northern League leader Matteo Salvini, wasted no time in reinforcing hard line policies, visiting a Sicilian immigration camp on the weekend after warning: “The good times for illegals is over — get ready to pack your bags”.
He also mirrored the immigration lines of the Australian government, saying that a new Italian migration policy would save lives.
“Every life is sacred — to save lives you have to stop the departures of these death boats, which is a lucrative business for some and a disgrace for the rest of the world,” he said.
Mr Salvini’s party won the ability to form a populist Italian government with the Five Star Movement, after promising to stop the unrelenting wave of migrants arriving from North Africa and send home half a million who are not documented.
In addition to those not registered, there are estimated to be 600,000 migrants in Italy with at least 13,500 having arrived this year. On the weekend, Tunisian coast guard reported that 35 people had drowned and scores missing as 67 migrants were rescued off Tunisia as they tried to reach Italy. Another nine people were feared drowned off Turkey en route to Greece.
Mr Salvini, in his first post-election travails, visited Pozzallo, one of the southern Sicilian arrival posts for the migrants and then to Catania, where he promised to implement deportation centres.
“Enough of Sicily being the refugee camp of Europe,” he said.
“I will not stand by and do nothing while there are landings after landings. We need deportation centres.”
He added: “Fewer landings and more expatriations. It is not a hard line, just common sense. There is not enough housing and work for Italians, let alone half the continent of Africa.”
The Northern League and Five Star Movement have plans to pressure the European Union for tougher asylum laws at a meeting on Tuesday and have flagged further collisions with Brussels by introducing tax cuts and more welfare spending, exceeding the Euro’s three per cent deficit limit.
The German chancellor Angela Merkel invited the new Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte for talks but has flagged a differing view to the migration problem. She told German newspapers that a common asylum system across the European Union with asylum processing at the external borders was necessary.
“We need uniform procedures at the European external borders, and the Frontex European border management agency has to become a real European border police,” she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
“At the final stage, we need a common European refugee agency, which carries out all asylum procedures at the external borders on the basis of a single European asylum law.