Giorgia Meloni’s Migration Stance: Striving for Improvement

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni admitted she had hoped to do “better” to control irregular immigration, which has increased since her far-right party’s historic election victory a year ago.

“It’s clear that we hoped for better in terms of immigration when we have worked so hard,” she said in an interview with the Italian channel TG1, broadcast on Saturday evening (September 23), on the occasion of the anniversary of this victory.

“The results are not what we hoped for. It’s certainly a very complex issue, but I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of it,” she continued.

Ms. Meloni’s post-fascist Brothers of Italy party was elected largely on a promise to reduce mass immigration to Italy. But the number of arrivals on boats from North Africa has increased, with more than 130,000 migrants registered by the Interior Ministry so far this year, compared to 70,000 for the same period in 2022.

After 8,500 people arrived on the small island of Lampedusa in just three days earlier this month, Ms Meloni called on the European Union to do more to help relieve the pressure.

Brussels agreed to step up efforts and announced this week that it would start releasing money to Tunisia – where many boats leave from – as part of a pact to stem irregular migration from from this country.

“Demagogic and consciously cynical”

But Ms Meloni’s main coalition partner, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigration League party, rejected EU efforts to manage the influx of arrivals which he called “act of war”.

The League also condemned the German government this weekend for funding an NGO carrying out sea rescues in the Mediterranean, saying it represented “very serious interference” in Italian affairs.

Defense Minister Guido Crosetto, a member of Ms. Meloni’s party, also told La Stampa newspaper on Sunday that it was a “very serious” decision that put Italy “in difficulty.”

“If Germany cared about the plight of people in difficulty and really wanted to help us save lives, it could help us seriously fight against criminals who traffic in human beings,” he said. in a press release Sunday evening.

The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed for its part that it was granting between 400,000 and 800,000 euros each to two projects, “for support on land in Italy for people rescued at sea and the project of an NGO for operations rescue at sea.

Mr Salvini, who closed Italian ports to migrant rescue ships when he was in government in 2019, is pushing for a tougher approach.

Since coming to power, Ms Meloni’s government has restricted the activities of rescue ships, which it accuses of encouraging migrants, while pledging to crack down on smugglers.

He also sought to promote the repatriation of migrants ineligible for asylum, in particular by building new detention centers and extending the duration of detention there.

A decree published this week in the official journal also provides that migrants awaiting an asylum decision will have to pay a deposit of 5,000 euros or risk being sent to a detention center.

The center-left Democratic Party said in a memo earlier this week that “on immigration, the Italian right has failed.” “It continues on a demagogic and consciously cynical path, but above all totally ineffective both in respecting and safeguarding human rights and in protecting the interests of Italy,” believes the PD.

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