Italy’s Meloni takes a tough stance on migrants – POLITICO | Albiseyler

Italy's Meloni takes a tough stance on migrants - POLITICO

ROME – Italy’s right-wing government has launched a crackdown on immigration, taking measures to allow authorities to detain migrants for up to 18 months and ordering the construction of new centers to house them.

The tough reforms follow a surge in boat arrivals this month, with more than 10,000 people landing on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, a number higher than its usual resident population.

Lampedusa, just over 100 km off the coast of Tunisia, is the gateway to Europe for many migrants looking for a new life.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni came to power a year ago promising to curb immigration, but the number of arrivals in 2023 has almost doubled year-on-year, according to government figures.

On Monday, Rome’s cabinet adopted measures to extend the length of time illegal migrants can be detained from three to 18 months, an official from the prime minister’s office said. Ministers also approved the construction of new detention centers to hold all those arriving without a visa until they are deemed eligible for asylum or repatriated.

“We will have all the necessary time not only to carry out the necessary checks, but also to continue the repatriation of persons without the right to international protection,” Meloni said. The fight against immigration is “an epochal battle for Italy and Europe,” she said.

On Friday in the video message she said that coups, natural disasters, a grain war and jihadism, as well as the economic crisis in Tunisia, had contributed to “unsustainable immigration pressure” on Italy. The conditions “could cause tens of millions of people to seek a better life in Europe, she argued.” “Although Italy and Europe obviously cannot accept this huge mass of people.”

She said she wanted to “send a message” to potential migrants. “It doesn’t make sense to trust traffickers because they’ll take a lot of money, put you on a ship that isn’t fit for the trip, and once you get here, you’ll be detained and sent back.”

The crisis in Lampedusa gave Meloni the perfect excuse to appease his base by cracking down on migration.

The new measures are to work in combination with a plan to combat trafficking with increased surveillance and a European naval mission to block departures, announced on Sunday by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a visit to the island with Meloni.

The leader of the opposition Democrats, Elly Schlein, called the extension of the detention period a “hateful choice”. In the letter, La Repubblica said that such measures have not helped to increase repatriation in the past. She called for “safe and legal” ways to get to Europe.

Repatriation efforts have not been successful in the past. According to the OpenPolis think tank, only about 20 percent of those subject to repatriation orders left the country between 2014 and 2020.

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