Georgia Meloni’s far-right Fratelli d’Italia party (here in Rome on September 24, 2023) was elected primarily on the promise of reducing mass immigration to Italy. MAURO SCROBOGNA / AP
A year after her party’s historic election victory, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni admitted she had hoped to be able to “better” control irregular immigration, which continues to rise in Italy.
His far-right Fratelli d’Italia party was elected primarily on the promise of reducing mass immigration to Italy. But the number of arrivals on boats from North Africa has continued to rise: more than 130,000 migrants have been registered by the Interior Ministry so far this year, compared to 70,000 in the same period in 2022.
“It is clear that we hoped for better on immigration after working so hard,” she said in an interview with Italian broadcaster TG1 broadcast on Saturday evening to mark the anniversary of that victory. “The results are not what we hoped for. This is certainly a very complex issue, but I am sure we will get to the bottom of it,” she continued.
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Divergences with Matteo Salvini
After 8,500 people arrived on the small island of Lampedusa in just three days earlier this month, Ms Meloni called on the European Union to do more to ease the pressure. Brussels agreed to step up its efforts and announced this week that it would begin releasing funds to Tunisia – where many boats depart from – as part of a pact to curb irregular migration from that country.
But Ms. Meloni’s main partner in her ruling coalition, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigrant League party, has rejected the EU’s efforts to manage the influx of arrivals, which he described as an “act of war.” The league this weekend also condemned the German government for funding an NGO carrying out rescue operations in the Mediterranean, saying it constituted a “very serious interference” in Italian affairs.
Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, a member of Ms Meloni’s party, also told La Stampa newspaper on Sunday that it was a “very serious” decision that would put Italy “in trouble”. Mr. Salvini, who as interior minister closed Italian ports to refugee rescue ships in 2019, is pushing for tougher action.
“Cynical and completely ineffective”
Since coming to power, Ms Meloni’s government has restricted the activities of rescue ships, which it accuses of encouraging migrants, while promising to crack down on smugglers. In addition, he wanted to push forward the return of migrants who were not eligible for asylum, in particular by building new reception camps and extending the length of detention there.
A decree published this week in the Official Journal of the Italian Republic also requires migrants awaiting an asylum decision to pay a deposit of 5,000 euros, otherwise they will be sent to a deportation prison.
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The center-left Democratic Party (PD) said in a statement earlier this week that “the Italian right has failed on immigration policy.” “It continues its demagogic and deliberately cynical path, but above all it is completely ineffective, both in terms of respecting and protecting human rights and protecting Italy’s interests,” says the PD.