A decree adopted by the Italian government will make it easier to expel migrants and strip them of Italian citizenship. Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini says the bill will make the country safer.
Salvini said on social media the bill would help Italy to "be stronger in the fight against the mafia and (people)-smugglers."
He says the decree streamlines the rules for processing asylum requests in Italy and brings the country into line with other European Union countries.
🔴 #DecretoSalvini Sicurezza e Immigrazione, alle 12.38 il Consiglio dei Ministri approva all’unanimità!— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) September 24, 2018
Un passo in avanti per rendere l’Italia più sicura.
Dalle parole ai fatti, io vado avanti! pic.twitter.com/VvWdKgfxkS
"To fight more mafia and smugglers, to bring down the costs of inflated immigration, to expel criminals and fake refugees and deny citizenship to terrorists," Salvini tweeted.
The decree extends from 90 to 180 days the time migrants due for repatriation can be held in government detention centers.
It also makes the conditions for a "humanitarian protection" permit stricter, with protection now based on six criteria, Salvini announced. These include whether there is urgent medical need or if the applicant is the victim of a natural disaster.
The head of UN Refugee Agency Filippo Grandi had urged the government not to abolish the permits after meeting Salvini in Rome two weeks ago.
Tough on crime
Salvini said those seeking refugee status will have their requests suspended if they are "considered socially dangerous or convicted in the first instance" of crimes while their appeals are ongoing, AFP reports.
The interior minister added that asylum seekers accused of "dealing drugs or bag-snatching" will have their applications denied.
Parliament has 60 days to vote the bill into law.
Most asylum claims rejected
In the first quarter of 2018, Italy examined about 23,000 asylum requests, according to Fondazione ISMU, a research center on migration.
More than 61 per cent of applications were rejected; 21 per cent of applicants were granted humanitarian protection and 6 per cent given refugee status, ISMU said.