Refugees coming from Greece disembark from a humanitarian flight at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport, Fiumicino on July 16, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Telenews
Refugees coming from Greece disembark from a humanitarian flight at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport, Fiumicino on July 16, 2020 | Photo: ANSA/Telenews

The Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI) have welcomed recent changes to Italy's migrant and security decrees but have demanded a reform of citizenship rights.

The Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI) have welcomed a reform approved by the government last week that overhauls former interior minister and League leader Matteo Salvini's controversial migrant and security decrees.

"We appreciate the change on the issue of immigration, now the time has come to complete the reform of citizenship rights and, at the same time, open a debate involving all EU countries to rediscuss the Dublin agreement," ACLI President Roberto Rossini said in a statement released on October 9.

Satisfaction regarding changes to the hosting system

The associations expressed satisfaction for the reforms regarding changes to the hosting system, which intends to enhance the migrant-reception structure, introducing a special protection regime for refugees.

The concept of humanitarian protection is restored under the definition "special protection," the statement noted, and expulsions and evictions are banned if there is a "credible" suspicion that a person could be tortured or treated in an inhumane or degrading way if deported. The statement added that countries where there exists "systemic and grave violations of human rights," should also not be considered states to where people could be sent back.

Under the reform stay permits can be converted into work permits for reasons including calamity, elective residence, the recognition of citizenship or statelessness, sporting activities or artistic work, religious confession and assistance to minors.

More difficult to repatriate people

"The fact that it is not possible to repatriate, except for national security reasons, people who have a structured life in Italy and that there is the possibility of converting temporary stay permits into work permits, is a good result," said Antonio Russo, an immigration advisor to the national presidency of ACLI.

Russo said the change "rewards the work carried out by ACLI as part of the campaign Ero straniero (I was foreign) which invested significantly in work as a vehicle of inclusion for migrants."

Progress still needed on citizenship

ACLI also hailed the fact that the new package significantly reduces million-euro fines introduced by the Salvini-drafted legislation for NGO migrant-rescue ships defying entry bans.However, the associations noted that fines still remain, ranging between 10,000 and 50,000 euros, and that NGOs are still criminally liable.

"This gives the wrong message that rescue activities can favor irregular immigration instead of saving human lives," they noted. The time required to process citizenship applications is still too long, ACLI said.

"After the Salvini decree, the bureaucratic process to obtain citizenship lengthened from two to four years, the new one still requires three years," said Russo. He added that the association had been hoping to "return to the old time frame," or even to cut the length of the process down "to a year."

Italy, he concluded, "is the only country in Europe in which it can take up to 1,460 days to obtain citizenship. Germany has an average of 200 days, less than a year."

 

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