When will the 600,000 invisible illegal immigrants go back home?
February 20, 2019
When Mr. Salvini won his seat in Viminale – a big building in Rome, near Termini station, home of Italian Ministry of Interior – one of his first actions was that of shouting from a roof – wearing his “sweater of the day” – that he would clean Italy out of the 600,000 illegal immigrants living in the country.
Some months later, he changed his forecast and stated that “it would take years to send all those people away”. An unbelievable statement which contradicted the other Salvini, the one fighting, wearing a sweater, standing on a roof.
No one noticed this contradiction. Few people teased about him. The sole important leader remembering about these facts was Mr. Berlusconi, who, some weeks ago, proving to have an excellent memory for an eighty-year old person, said: “But Salvini, he should have sent them away, shouldn’t he? We will make him remember it soon, unless he brings down the government…”. That means: “if he stays with us, we will turn a blind eye to it…”.
Now, the questions every single person should have are: “What will happen to these 600,000 invisible people? Will they really go back home, by hook or by crook?”.
Let’s try to make it clear by answering the second question: the answer is “No, we will never send them home”. Why?
In 1998 I was Sottosegretario agli Interni in charge of Immigration; the countries we had an agreement about immigrants’ repatriation with were four – Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria. And today… the situation is the same. In other words, for 20 years nobody has been trying to rule repatriations. We have some agreements sealed by European Commission, that are, five agreements with Balkan’s area – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia; three with eastern Europe – Ukraine, Russia, Moldova; four with Asian countries – Hong Kong, Macao, Sri Lanka, Pakistan. We must add the agreements with Turkey and Mali.
In 20 years, in Italy we have had ten years of right-wing governments – with Mr. Maroni and Lega Nord ruling Viminale – and nine years of Partito Democratico. They talked a lot about the matter, but they did nothing!
Another question could be: “If we had these famous agreements, would there be the chance to send these people away from Italy?”. No, it would be almost impossible, because of many reasons.
First, now Italy repatriates about some thousands illegal immigrants each year.
When an illegal immigrant is found by the police, he is taken to a consulate to have his nationality checked and confirmed. Usually, the consul doesn’t recognize the immigrant’s nationality – one less illegal person going back home. The immigrant is therefore given a “foglio di via” – a piece of paper stating that that person cannot stay in Italy and has to leave the country – which he throws away as soon as he leaves the police station.
Another example: if police catches the immigrant while he is committing a crime, they take him to prison or to a “centro di espulsione” – a place in Italy where people are taken when they have to leave the country because they have committed a crime. Even in this case the immigrant throws the “foglio di via” away, but only after some months, when he gets out of prison or of the centre.
In the past, when a prefecture understood that the immigrant was a “good person”, s/he would give him or her the Humanitarian Permit, with which the immigrant could find a job. Now Salvini and his “decreto sicurezza” eliminate this permit and so the immigrant is considered illegal and it remains so forever, becoming another invisible person – and invisible people in Italy are almost a million now.
We have two possibilities: admitting all illegal immigrants and restarting from the beginning – the so-called “powerlessness option” – or living with all these people in an uncertain situation which creates more unsafety and illegality.