A protest against the Security Decree in Naples on February 18, 2020 | Photo: Cesare Abbate / ANSA
A protest against the Security Decree in Naples on February 18, 2020 | Photo: Cesare Abbate / ANSA

The Constitutional Affairs Committee in the Italian Lower House of Parliament has approved a Democratic Party (PD) amendment to the security decree that would abolish the Italian quota system limiting the number of foreigners who can regularly enter the country for work.

An amendment by the Democratic Party (PD) that proposes to abolish the Italian quota system regulating the number of foreigners who are legally allowed to enter the country for work was approved by the Lower House Constitutional Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

The amendment is currently being examined by the Italian Parliament for final approval, but the center-right has strongly criticized it and has made progress on the committee difficult. The topic of legal immigration become a focus in the parliamentary discussion over the security decree that replaced the Salvini decrees, highlighting the divide between the majority and the opposition.

After about a dozen proposals for modifications by the opposition were rejected regarding issuing permits to those who arrived in Italy without papers, the amendment regarding quotas was eventually approved.

What the amendment includes

In Italy, the law currently states that the government is to approve a planned three-year document on legal migration routes, followed by the release of a quota decree to be approved by November 30 each year.

The quota decree establishes the maximum number of foreigners who can receive a work permit each year. And at the moment, each government issues its quota by November 30, keeping within the limits established by the three-year decree.

The PD amendment, sponsored by Stefano Ceccanti, abolishes this last phrase, and therefore both the November 30 limit as well as that of the maximum quotas. According to the PD, it gives each government more autonomy to establish its own limits and take responsibility for migration.

League MP Nicola Molteni, former deputy interior minister under Matteo Salvini, was particularly harsh in his criticism of the amendment, calling it a "criminal" act. He said the regulation is like telling "the entire world: come, Italy is an Eldorado, there's work for everyone, while there isn't even enough for Italians." He called this change "dramatic" and said the message Italy would be sending out is "terrifying."

'The regulation serves to give more adaptability to any government'

Deputy Interior Minister Matteo Mauri countered, explaining the regulation doesn't regard the current government.

Mauri reminded MPs: "Since it's still before November 30, if Premier Conte wants to, he could make the decree tomorrow, without having the constraint of the previous year's quota; we don't need an amendment," Mauri said.

"The regulationis there to give more adaptability to any government, over a time limit that makes no sense and over parameters to adopt for issuing a new quota decree. Taking away the time limit allows the government to decide, then accept responsibility [for its own migration policies]," Mauri said.


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