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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Italy’s Mayors Revolt against the Penalisation of Immigrants


Roberto Tumbarello

Sat, 05 Jan 2019 10:10 GMT

It is not a simple protest but a real revolt by many Italian mayors, who consider the “Migration and Security Decree” ordered by the Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, leader of the Liga Nord party, inhumane and racist and will not execute it. The decree came into force in October and was passed into Italian law in November 2018.

The new law has raised juridical and ideological questions and led to resistance by a group of mayors, They wish to take the new law to the Constitutional Court to establish its legitimacy. They believe the law violates human rights and some specific articles of the constitution that prohibit discrimination against foreigners. 

Alluding to an intervention by the magistracy referring to those who do not respect the laws of the state, Salvini said he was convinced that sooner or later the mayors must resign themselves to applying the law as it stands. "Even for them – and this implies mayors as well as for migrants - the pacchus is over," he said. “Pacchus” is a typically Italian expression which means that everyone does their own thing without respect for the rules. However, justice is one thing and politics is another and this is what the mayors are protesting against.

The first to rebel was Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo, who claimed the decree on security was against the customs and traditions of hospitality of the country and especially the people of Sicily. Immediately afterwards, Orlando was followed by Luigi De Magistris, mayor of Naples, who was a magistrate before entering into politics. Next came Giuseppe Sala, mayor of Milan, Dario Nardella from Florence and Virginio Merola from Bologna.

"No rebellion,” responded Leoluca Orlando to the criticisms of the magistracy, “I have only acted as Mayor. Also, because the decree contains strictly municipal rules. That is why, while waiting for the civil court to rule and to refer the case, in consequence, to the Constitutional Court, I ordered the suspension of the decree," he said.

Palermo has a particularly effective reception and integration programme for the protection of women, unaccompanied minors and vulnerable people, which involves the prefecture, the university, the schools and various communities. There are about 5,500 operatives in a system that guarantees the security of the programme, as well as thousands of volunteers.

In Palermo they are proud to have perfected a culture of acceptance of equality. It echoes the defeated Riace model, the village of Calabrian integration, which revitalised the local economy but which, after the judicial involvement of the mayor, Mimmo Lucano, unfortunately became a ghost town inhabited only by the elderly. 

Not only mayors but also members of political parties opposed to the government are challenging the so-called “Migration and Security law” which, in reality, restricts the rights of migrants and refugees. Virginia Raggi in Rome and Chiara Appendino in Turin, both members of the Five Star Movement (M5S), asked the government to mitigate the law, which they said will cause difficulties for local administrations dealing with incomers from abroad.

The Mayor of Reggio Calabria, Giuseppe Falcomatà, has proposed a round-table discussion with the Minister of the Interior to see if there is a space for a dialogue to review parts of this decree that has obvious negative repercussions for a declining Italian population. immigration is essential to Italy, where the death rate has exceeded the birth rate for some years. In fact, the first babies born in Rome in 2019 were not Italian but a Moroccan and an Albanian.

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