Migrants in the tent camp near the Tiburtina railway station in Rome. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI
Migrants in the tent camp near the Tiburtina railway station in Rome. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI

Italian associations and municipalities are sounding an alarm on the government's security decree, which was recently approved by the Italian Senate and is now headed to the Lower House. Mayors are concerned over cuts to reception services, while associations say the measures create insecurity.

Italian associations are raising concern over the government's security decree, which they say will cause an increase in crime and create thousands of illegal immigrants who cannot be repatriated except in small numbers.


The National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) said the decree could have consequences in terms of social costs, including the risk that the SPRAR system for reception of refugees and asylum seekers could close definitively. In addition to the various mayors expressing doubts and questions on the reception front, a considerable number of associations and sector workers are roundly rejecting the contents of the security decree, at least the part that regards immigration. 

Mayors' opinions 

Italian mayors, who have always been in favor of the SPRAR system and the first to interface with residents' concerns in their towns, are stressing that at least two key points must be respected in order to move forward in the best way possible. The mayors communicated their concerns through ANCI's delegate for immigration, Matteo Biffoni. He said one essential point is that mayors must approve the opening of reception centres in order to protect territorial sustainability, and the other point is that vulnerable asylum seekers and nuclear families with children must be maintained in the SPRAR centres without the social and assistance costs falling on local welfare systems. "If the current provisions that we were able to read in the draft budget bill are confirmed, it means that, beyond any other declaration, the SPRAR system will essentially be closed," Biffoni said. 

Some mayors, however, have decided to take a direct approach rather than a conciliatory tone. "If the security decree text doesn't change, I will call together towns, associations, and volunteers - another way is already possible," said Bologna Mayor Virginia Merola. 

Associations' complaints 

The Italian Council for Refugees (CIR) is also among those criticizing the security decree. It said the decree worsens "both the level of rights for asylum seekers and refugees, as well as the efficiency of the system itself". CIR Director Mario Morcone said the decree does so by introducing "extended forms of detention for asylum seekers, who could be held only for checking their identity and without having committed any crime, for up to 210 days". ARCI defines the decree as "one of the darkest pages in the history of our republic". 

The Astalli Centre, the Jesuit service for refugees, expressed displeasure over the government's use of an urgent decree and a confidence vote for "a complex and structural phenomenon such as migration, which reveals the incapacity to move beyond emergency logic".

Environmental group Legambiente spoke of the "stubborn ideological insistence with which Minister Salvini is dismantling the best parts of our reception system", for which "we will have an overall total of about 80% of arrivals who will be forced to camp out in the cities because they will be deprived of any right, unloading costs and problems onto mayors". 
 

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