A man at a protest after the closing of of the Castelnuovo di Porto migrant center due to the security decree in Rome on January 24, 2019 | Photo: ANSA/Angelo Carconi
A man at a protest after the closing of of the Castelnuovo di Porto migrant center due to the security decree in Rome on January 24, 2019 | Photo: ANSA/Angelo Carconi

By the end of 2020, the number of undocumented migrants in Italy could surpass 670,000. That is more than twice as many as only five years ago, according to a report by Amnesty International.

According to Amnesty International, the increase in the number of undocumented people is at least partly due to the so-called Salvini decree, which was passed in late 2018. The security decree was passed by the previous government coalition of the populist Five Star Movement and the far-right League party. Many observers have long been expected that the decree will be modified by the new, less anti-migrant government, but this has thusfar not happened.

Amnesty International argues that by eliminating humanitarian protection and excluding asylum seekers from the reception system, the decree makes migrants more vulnerable to dangers such as labor exploitation.

In their report, they profile several migrants whose lives have been made more difficult by the security decree.

The migrants affected by the security decree

One of them is Jibril. According to Amnesty, the young man from Cameroon forced to flee his country due to persecution and left an 8-year-old daughter behind. In 2016, he arrived in Italy and was hosted in a reception center in Sicily. "In 2017 I got a diploma from the provincial center for adult education," he told the organization. "I studied the Italian language, civics, and legal system and reached the A2 level. I also intended to request Italian citizenship." After being granted a stay permit for humanitarian reasons and having worked in several jobs, in 2019 Jibril reportedly managed to get a permanent contract as domestic help in Bologna. "As soon as I signed that contract, I felt like I was living a different life," he said.

In mid-2019, Jibril's stay permit expired. At first he was not worried, Jibril said. "I felt safe. I had everything: a regular job, monthly salary, a rental contract. I paid taxes. I hadn't committed any crimes. I thought that the renewal was simply a formality," he said. "But I had not taken the security decree into account. When they told me humanitarian protection no longer existed by law, I realized that there would be more problems for me," he said.

Young man going blind

Another story migrant that Amnesty spoke to is Karim. The 22-year-old Nigerian has with glaucoma in a terminal phase, which means that he is going blind. He had also been granted a stay permit in Italy for humanitarian reasons. Since November 2019, Karim has been in the care of some volunteers and the local Nigerian community, which is trying to help him get the medical care he needs. "I would be dead without them," he said.

Amnesty International noted that, at the current rate, repatriations of migrants without stay permits to their countries of origin would have a marginal effect. To deport them all, the organization said, would take 90 years -- if no other undocumented migrants were to arrive.  


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