The Italian Government Shapes Its Immigration Policy

By Dan Hannan

In an article written by Dan Hannan and published in the Washington Examiner on June 18, 2018, the author highlights the actions of the new Italian government with regard to immigration policy in Europe.

Excerpts from the article follow.

The new governing coalition in Rome is an alliance of opposites, but its constituent right- and left-wing parties agree on one thing. As the leader of the nationalist Lega, and now the interior minister, Matteo Salvini, puts it, “The good times for illegals are over. Get ready to pack your bags”.

True to his word, Salvini turned away a Franco-German ship, the Aquarius, which had been boarding migrants off the Libyan coast and depositing them in Sicily. There was outrage from European newspapers and politicians. Emmanuel Macron accused Italy of “cynicism and irresponsibility,” while Spain’s newly formed socialist government promised to take in the 629 people on board the Aquarius.

Yet there is no evidence that the French or Spanish people are any more enthusiastic about immigration than the Italians. The argument is not between France and Italy, so much as between Euro-politicians of the Macron stripe and the bulk of their populations. Italy is the European outlier, in the sense that its politicians reflect the views of their constituents…..

One thing, though, is unarguable. The current system is nearly the worst imaginable. The sea-route to Europe is the result of a legal anomaly. At land borders, states can turn away people who have no right to enter their territory. But maritime law obliges them to pick up endangered sea travelers and land them in the nearest safe harbor. Various NGOs interpret that law as entitling them to scoop people up just outside Libya’s ports and ferry them to Italy, where they can make their way to Germany or Sweden.

And that legal anomaly condemns thousands of people to drown every year. There is no pretense of admitting applicants on the basis of either need or due process. Immigration policy is contracted out to gangsters and human traffickers.

Can anything be done?

Ask the Australians. The conservative government there, notably under Tony Abbott, declared that no migrant boats would be allowed to reach Australia. Vessels were intercepted by the navy and escorted to offshore processing centers where genuine refugees could make their claims. Result? No more boats and no more drownings. Indeed, the European migration crisis was partly a result of the Australian route being closed.

A similar approach — perhaps establishing safe and humane centers in Tunisia — seems to be beyond the EU. So the current dystopian policy continues, its flaws obvious but unmentionable in political circles. No wonder Italians have had enough.