Protest in front of Milan City Hall against the reopening of the migrant repatriation center (CPR) in Via Corelli | Photo: Paolo Salmoirago / ANSA
Protest in front of Milan City Hall against the reopening of the migrant repatriation center (CPR) in Via Corelli | Photo: Paolo Salmoirago / ANSA

The reopening of a repatriation center (CPR) in Milan's Via Corelli has sparked a controversy . Right-wing politicians welcome the decision to reopen the facility but the center-left are protesting against it.

The reopening on September 29 of a migrant repatriation center (CPR) in Milan's Via Corelli has pitted right-wing parties that have celebrated the decision against the center-left.

The leader of the rightwing anti-migrant League party, Matteo Salvini, said on Monday that he has personally worked to reopen centers "where illegal immigrants, (ed. In Italian, Salvini used the words Clandestini- clandestines) recognized as such can be placed while they wait to be expelled, because otherwise, they would roam across Italy." Salvini welcomed the reopening of the CPR in Via Corelli.

'A great day for the security of Italians'

"Without expulsion centers you cannot expel [migrants]," added Salvini, who visited the center when he was interior minister in July last year at the beginning of renovation work to reopen the facility.

"Today is a great day for the security of Italians," said the security councilor of the Lombardy region, Riccardo De Corato, the former deputy mayor of Milan, and currently a member of the right-wing Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) party.

De Corato noted that it represented instead a "day of mourning" for those who wanted the facility to become "the umpteenth hosting center" for migrants. "I have long highlighted the importance of this center," added the councilor. "In our region, in fact, there are nearly 112,000 irregular [migrants)], 51,400 of whom are in Milan, according to data from Orim [Regional Observatory on Immigration and Multi-ethnicity] and [Lombardy political research institute] Polis Lombardia," he added, citing the regional institute for the support of Lombardy's policies.

Center-left protests in Milan

Milan's Mayor Giuseppe Sala (a member of the Democratic Party PD) said he did not want to oppose the government's decision to reopen the center and that he wanted to "trust the prefect's decision."

However, he added, "there is something that needs explaining: first of all, Milan has always been very active with repatriations. With the exception of this year, which has been a bit odd, I have always received significant numbers from the prefecture. Therefore, it is not true that we don't carry out repatriations. The second thing is that, once it opens, it must work in a certain way," Sala said of the repatriation center.

'Protections are necessary'

Sala added that he has told the prefect that once the center is open, he wants to visit it with him "to check the situation."

Center-left activists and politicians in Milan protested against the reopening of the CPR which they believe is "wrong and unjust, regardless of who took the decision," said organizers of a protest on Wednesday in front of City Hall.

The appeal against the reopening of the center, launched by a city councilor of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), Carlo Monguzzi, was signed by several other center-left councilors, including the president of the city council, Lamberto Bertolè and a member of the European Parliament, Pierfrancesco Majorino, a former councilor in Milan and a PD member.

The appeal said: "Just as we strongly opposed the measure with which ex-minister Salvini, nearly two years ago, ordered the closure of the CAS [reception center for asylum seekers] in Via Corelli to transform it into a CPR [migrant repatriation center], today we firmly oppose the decision of the current government to allow it to reopen."


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