Italy's lower house of parliament approves immigration bill
Tue Jun 4, 3:38 PM ET
By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer
ROME - Italy's lower house of parliament approved stiffer measures to combat illegal immigration Tuesday — including provisions to fingerprint non-EU nationals and to send some illegal migrants to jail for a year.
The bill, which was approved 279-203 with the votes of Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives, needs approval from the Senate to become a law.
The legislation, part of a crackdown on immigration promised by the premier and demanded by the rightist partners in his government, calls for the immediate expulsion of illegal immigrants. It would also allow authorities to put them in jail for up to one year if they are found back on Italian soil after having already been expelled once.
"We need to show people who want to arrive here illegally that we are able to kick them out," said Berlusconi ally Umberto Bossi, whose Northern League party has been accused of being xenophobic.
Currently, illegal immigrants are repatriated to their home countries, sometimes after a stay in a detention center.
Opposition lawmakers denounced the law as "discriminatory" and "racist."
"It's unworthy of a civil country to equate illegal immigrants with criminals," Communist leader Oliviero Diliberto said.
Others said parts of the law were unrealistic, including a provision that immigrants must have a promise of a job waiting for them, such as home care for elderly or sick people, in order to be granted a visa.
"Where is the family that would hire a nurse without ever having met the person?" asked rhetorically Pierluigi Castegnetti, head of an opposition party of former Christian Democrats.
Permission to stay would be yanked when the job ends.
The law will require immigrants from non-European Union (news - web sites) countries to be fingerprinted and calls for Navy aircraft to patrol Italy's porous coastline.
The center-right maintained the bill is fair.
Deputy Premier Gianfranco Fini, the head of the right-wing National Alliance and one of the sponsors of the legislation, said the bill "combines rigor toward illegal (immigrants) and due solidarity toward those coming to Italy to work."
Interviewed on state TV, he said about the criticism about fingerprinting: "He who has nothing to fear" shouldn't object.
Considering that Italy has been undergoing a "Camp of the Saints" scenario for some time now I don't find it unreasonable. You?