What is the impact of the new Italian government’s migration policies?

Written by Leila Belhadj Mohamed

Italy has spoken, in the elections held on September 25th it chose to entrust the Country’s government to a right-wing coalition, led by a neo-fascist party – even though the Italian media continue to describe the coalition as centre-right. A coalition built on hatred of difference, xenophobia, and racism. If we analyse the political programmes of the main parties in the coalition, Fratelli d’Italia and Lega, it is clear what perspective this government will have on the management of migratory flows.

The election proposals are the classic ones of all sovereigntist parties in Europe. If the government is going to implement its election programme in full, the first step would be a strong defence of national and European borders through a naval blockade and a renewal of agreements with Libya, to increasingly the externalisation of the management of migratory flows. What is important to remember is that there is no legitimate and reliable government in Libya at the moment, and that the humanitarian conditions in which migrants and asylum seekers live in the North African country are known to all.

The idea of continuing to externalise border management is also evident from Giorgia Meloni’s desire to create hotspots to analyse the practices of migrants in non-European countries, as already proposed by Denmark at the beginning of 2022 or by the United Kingdom in June. However, few remember that Italy was among the first to propose hotspots in Africa in 2018, through the Foreign Minister Moavero Milanesi.

The new government wants to continue criminalising civil society which, through the massive work of NGOs, is replacing the State in rescuing people at the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed, all the majority parties are proposing to ban NGO ships from Italian ports and prosecute them for the crime of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. Not only that: Lega has even proposed to reduce the daily allowance for migrants in reception centres, even though the ceiling is set by the European Union with funds for migrants.

The idea of equating migration with security is evident from the moment that plans are being made to create new Centres of Permanence for Repatriation (CPR) in which to detain all those found undocumented on Italian territory. For those who do not know the reality of these centres, they are real prisons in which the rule of law is suspended: the stay should have a maximum duration of 90 days, which is never respected; lawyers are not allowed inside them; migrants are not allowed to keep their smartphones, and the few that do circulate have their cameras broken, to avoid witnessing the conditions in which migrants live. The systemic violation of migrants’ rights and international law within these centres has been documented, not only by some Members of the Italian Parliament, but by several human rights NGOs.

There remains the unknown of the citizenship issue: it is clear that with this government it will be impossible to change the law in a more inclusive direction, the real question is whether they will touch the process of obtaining citizenship again in a more rigid direction.

Last, but not least, is the social issue. The problem, even before being political, is social. The Government and Parliament do not have a very short time to act, the social effects, on the other hand, are much more immediate. In recent years, racially and religiously based micro and macro-aggressions against minorities have increased, culminating in the murder of Alika Ogochukwu on 29 July 2022. White people, with such a Government, feel empowered to externalise their assimilated racism, knowing that they have the institutions on their side. Attacks will increase, already a few days ago a girl was attacked in the centre of Padua for the sole reason of wearing the hijab. The biggest and most immediate concern is the lack of security for BIPOC people on the streets, both because of police racial profiling and widespread intolerance.Leila Belhadj Mohamed, geopolitic editor of the DOTZ Media, is explaining the impact of the new Italian government over migration. Leila Belhadj Mohamed is a freelance editor and podcaster, transfeminist activist and expert on migration, human rights, digital rights and the geopolitics of Africa and the SWANA region. DOTZ Media is a project that aims at giving a wider point of view on different fields such as lifestyle, politics, environment of the Italian context.