Italian Premier Romano Prodi came under fire from opposition figures on Wednesday, after saying his government backed an “open doors policy” on immigration.
Addressing the Foreign Press Association in the capital, Prodi said the centre-left coalition had no intention of changing “the open doors policy it has responsibly embarked upon” since coming to power last year. The premier’s sentiments were echoed during a Senate speech by Economy Minister Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, who said he was in favour of a policy that welcomed foreigners. “The presence of immigrants is a true blessing: for businesses, for less skilled workers and in helping care for the elderly and disabled,” he said. But figures from the centre-right opposition coalition, which introduced the country’s tough, existing immigration laws while last in power, slammed the government’s approach. Senator Alfredo Mantovano of the rightist National Alliance party warned of an immigrant influx in the wake of the premier’s comments.
“Telling the foreign press Italy has an ‘open doors policy on immigration’ is tantamount to issuing an invitation – via TV news in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco – to any illegal immigrant to come and settle in Italy,” he said.
“The centre right has never said ‘the doors are closed’. Instead it has said that those who want to enter may do so by knocking at the door, identifying themselves and entering after being given permission“. The head of immigration and security policy for the centre-right Forza Italia party, Jole Santelli, accused the government of ignoring public opinion. “Prodi doesn’t hear – or more simply, is just not interested in – the cry of alarm among the general public,” she said. “His open doors policy is creating chaos and leading to serious social tension“. Isabella Bertolini, the deputy whip for Forza Italia in the House, commented: “Prodi has finally revealed his true colours with regards to immigration. He has said he favours an invasion of illegal immigrants through his open doors policy“. The centre-left coalition made easing immigration restrictions an important issue in its 2006 election platform but despite announcing a number of new policies since coming to power, has not yet altered the law. The key plank in its immigration strategy is a wide-ranging bill unveiled in March after months of preparation.
Although approved immediately by the cabinet, the document has not yet gone before parliament. The government has billed the measure as a tool to reduce the numbers of people entering Italy illegally, claiming that existing immigration legislation is not working. That is, according to Prodi government, the only way to cut the number of illegal immigrants is to state they are not illegal any longer.
But the centre-right opposition says it will fuel immigration by making it easier for foreigners to settle in Italy.
If approved by parliament, the bill would allow Italians to stand as guarantors for would-be immigrants, meaning foreigners would no longer need to get a job and hold a residency permit before entering Italy. That would essentially mean a huge inflow of illegal immigrants legally smuggled by the Mafias, as supreme guarantors of their entry in Italy.
Another key change would be a reduction in the number of Italy’s controversial migrant holding centres from 14 to just five. This is a very stupid move but Mr.Prodi, in order to stay in office, is always willing to satisfy his communist partners.
Meanwhile, a spike in criminal offences committed by Romanian citizens (especially Roma people) is causing anger all over Italy. Mr.Prodi’s was the only Euro Area government, last January, to immediately allow Romanian citizens to enter Italy without visas, whereas other European countries decided to keep visas. As a result, the number of Romanians involved in crime offences is exploding, and politicians like Mr.Giuliano Amato, Minister of Interior, and Walter Veltroni, mayor of Rome and next centre-left leader, say that the government has to use “zero tolerance” against crime and illegal immigration.
Yes, exactly the kind of immigration they made legal a few months ago, thanks to their irresponsible and absurd “open doors policy”. This is Italy, this is our leftist government.