Italias innenriksminister Matteo Salvini. Foto: Angelo Carconi / AP / NTB scanpix

The Italian Parliament has passed a harsh, new law of immigration and security making it easier to deport migrants committing crimes and to deprive those convicted of terrorism of their Italian citizenship. The law also encompasses several retrenchments to the Italian immigrant policy.

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The President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, signed the new law earlier this month, after it was passed in the Second Chamber of the Parliament, dei Deputati, 396 votes in favour and 99 votes against the law on 28 November. According to the American think tank, the Gatestone Institute, the Italian Senate supported the law on 7 November.

Also known as «Security Decree» or «Salvini Decree», the new law encompass several important regulations.

The new law is essentially aimed at limiting the number of immigrants who have received asylum in Italy. To achieve this, Article 1 of the law abolishes residence permit for so-called humanitarian protection, a kind of security accessible for those not eligible of refugee status in for instance Norwegian law.

Under the former system, the prerequisite of qualifying for humanitarian protection was vague and exposed to misuse. It was one of three forms of protection offered applicants of asylum, the other two being political asylum and subsidiary protection. Immigrant arriving in Italia could ask for humanitarian protection for two years, achieving access to work, social welfare, and housing, according to the Gatestone Institute.

Under the new law, the Italian Government will only give asylum to legal refugees, namely those fleeing from war or victims of political persecution. The new law also introduces a series of special grants (considerations of health or natural disaster in the country of origin) for a maximum of six to twelve months.

Article 2 in the new law allows the Italian authorities to intern immigrants in centres awaiting repatriation (Centri di Permanent per il Rimpatrio, HLR) for a maximum of 180 days, increased from a maximum of 90 days. The extension matches the period regarded as necessary to verify the identity and nationality of an immigrant.

Furthermore, Article 3 states that applicants for asylum can be kept at so-called hotspots, or identification facilities at the outer EU borders, for a maximum of 30 days. If the identity is not determined within 30 days, the applicants for asylum may also be kept in the above mentioned centres for 180 days. In other words, applicants for asylum can be kept for 210 days to verify their identity.

Article 6 provides distribution of more funds for repatriation, € 500.000 ($ 570.000) in 2018, € 1.5 million ($ 1.7 million) in 2019, and an additional € 1.5 million in 2020.

Applicants for asylum may in accordance with Article 7 lose their protection if they are prosecuted for crimes, including threats or violence towards a public officer, physical abuse, molestation of females, and several thefts.

A list will now be made of secure countries of origin, countries with democratic political systems and where there is «generally and consequently» no political persecution, torture, or inhuman or humiliating treatment or punishment, threats of violence or armed conflict.

At least 12 EU countries already have such lists, used to prevent misuse of the EU and the national systems of asylum, the Gatestone Institute writes.

The law introduces new categories, qualifying an application for asylum as «evidently unfounded» in cases where persons have given inconsistent statement, false information, or false documents, refuse to provide fingerprints, pose a danger to order and security, or arrived on Italian territory in an abnormal way, without immediately applying for asylum.

In addition to the list of secure countries of origin, Article 10 establishes the principle of «internal refugee»; meaning that foreign citizens may be repatriated to certain areas of the country of origin where there is no danger of being persecuted.

Article 14 makes it possible to retract the Italian citizenship from non-Italians convicted for crimes linked with terrorism, encompassing foreigners who achieved citizenship after five years of living in Italy, stateless who achieved citizenship after five years of living in Italy, children of foreigners born in Italy achieving citizenship at the age of 18, and spouses of Italian citizens.

In a press conference, the Minister of Domestic Affairs, Salvini, said that the new law will secure order in a dysfunctional system of asylum. «With criteria, common sense, and good results, we establish order, rules, seriousness, transparency, and oneness in the system of asylum reception, which had become a goods, an enterprise lacking control and paid by the Italian people», the Minister of Domestic Affairs from the immigration critical party Lega said.

According to the Gatestone Institute, the new law is condemned by the Italian central media, leftist political parties, and by voluntary organisations and groups engaged in immigration work.

Translated to English by Lars Hoem

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