A mother and her newborn after being rescued in the Mediterranean sea. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/COAST GUARD
A mother and her newborn after being rescued in the Mediterranean sea. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/COAST GUARD

An Italian court has found a resolution by the Lombardy regional council to be discriminatory against migrants. The resolution limits access to regional 'baby bonuses' to households in which both parents have been living in the region for 5 consecutive years prior to the baby's birth.

The Milan appeals court has ruled that an October 2015 resolution passed by the Lombardy regional council is discriminatory in its requirement for both parents of the newborn child to have been living in the region for five consecutive years prior to its birth to be eligible for "baby bonuses." Lombardy is one of twenty administrative regions in Italy, in the northwest of the country.


In the case, which began after a complaint by an association for legal studies on immigration, ASGI, and the Avvocati per Niente non-profit organization, the judges have ordered the Lombardy regional government to amend the resolution and ''abolish'' the requirement of five years of uninterrupted residence and to reopen the call for applications. 

In December, the Milan appeals court had found that another resolution that had passed four years ago was ''discriminatory'' in that it required ''the exercise of a regular activity'' and residence for at least 10 years in Italy and at least 5 years in the region to have access to a fund for rent support. 

Aim 'is to exclude foreigners' 

''By pursuing the objective of excluding foreigners, the choices of many administrations - including the Lombardy one - end up awarding only the 'immobile needy' instead of those courageously seeking out conditions for a better life, and in this way penalize dynamism of society, damaging not only foreigners but also Italians,'' said the lawyer Alberto Guariso, who represented the ASGI and Avvocati per Niente associations, alongside his fellow lawyer Livio Neri.

"Now," Guariso said, ''the sentence by the Milan appeals court must lead to reflection on the choice to require 10 years of residence for the basic income initiative.'' 

Migrant rights associations' arguments upheld 

ASGI noted that the Milan judges had upheld the arguments made by the associations, "according to which the introduction of the requirement of 5 years of residency for both parents to be eligible for the 'baby bonuses' (800 euros for a second child and 1,000 for a third) does not meet the requirements of being reasonable as foreseen by the Constitutional Court since an administration, once it has chosen to take action concerning a social need, such as that of protecting maternity, cannot introduce requirements of residency disproportionate and too exclusive without taking into account other elements of 'links to the territory' of the person in need." 

This requirement, ASGI added, "leads to the exclusion of many foreign families both because it is normal that foreigners have lived in an area less time as well as because foreign families, due to family reunification rules, leads to the two parents entering Italy and Lombardy at different times.'' The court, the association noted, also upheld the decision by the first-degree judge on the contribution to rent provided by the regional government. 
 

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