1. The Council of Ministers has approved the Salvini bill on immigration
Citizenship rights, international protection, refugee status are only some of the issues that will be affected by the new bill on security and immigration.
Despite constitutional doubts and the outcry from many organisations, including the Italian bishops’ conference, against the planned downsizing of the SPRAR system, the Council of Ministers has approved the bill proposed by interior minister Salvini.
The bill will introduce several measures: migrants due for repatriation could be held for 180 days (from 90) in detention centres; access to the SPRAR system could be limited to accompanied minors and those entitled to humanitarian protection, and asylum applications could be voided if the applicants are declared socially dangerous.
“Humanitarian reasons” could be struck from the 1998 immigration bill, and humanitarian protection limited to six specific categories.
Reactions from organisations working with migrants have been harsh. ARCI vicepresident Filippo Miraglia said “It is a dark chapter in our democracy”. “Limiting the rights of one group, a minority, is not only contrary to the principles of democracy and our Constitution; it also fosters social conflicts and has adverse effects on the local communities”.
2. Panama excludes Aquarius from its registry
The Panama Maritime Authority has revoked the registration of the search and rescue ship Aquarius 2. Under international law, this decision will block the ship from continuing its activities in the Central Mediterranean.
According to Doctors Without Borders Italy, Panama’s decision was caused by pressures from the Italian government. The Aquarius 2 was the only ship left rescuing migrants in the Central Mediterranean.
Le notizie dell’Autorità marittima di #Panama sono arrivate mentre le équipe a bordo erano impegnate in un’operazione di ricerca e soccorso nel #Mediterraneo Centrale. #Aquarius ora ha 58 persone a bordo. https://t.co/d1XkY07KmJ
— MediciSenzaFrontiere (@MSF_ITALIA) September 23, 2018
Pleas from the international community came to no avail. “Our solidarity goes to the crew, but all actors in the Mediterranean must follow international law” , said European Commission spokesperson, Mina Andreeva.
Ironically, after seeing its license revoked and being sent out of the Libyan SAR zone, The MSF and SOS Méditerranée ship was called back by the Tripoli coast Guard to assist a rubber boat in distress with a hundred people on board, which was spotted by an Italian military aircraft.
Last Thursday, the ship had assisted a boat in distress with 11 people on board in international waters off the coast of Libya, refusing to turn them over to the Libyan authorities. Interior minister Salvini had referenced the incident while restating his closed-port policy.
3. No agreement on migrants at the Salzburg summit
Redistribution of migrants, quotas, the Dublin Regulation: the Salzburg summit was supposed to be an opportunity to rethink the EU migration policies, but it ended up in a standstill.
This means fewer options are left on the table.The first is a proposal from the European Commission to strengthen the mandate of Frontex – creating a standing corpse of 10,000 guards and increasing the budget to over 11 billion euros – which was met with a polarised response. Countries such as Austria and France are in favour, albeit with different stances on migration, with French President Macron saying “Countries that don’t want more Frontex or solidarity will leave Schengen”; others, such as Italy, appear more cautious, while the Visegrad countries are decidedly against the proposal.
The second proposal, the idea of flexible solidarity, came from Slovakia: a mechanism where countries that do not accept migrant quotas would contribute otherwise, mostly through funding. This proposal has met the opposition of Germany.
4. Integration needs more resources
Italy stands to save 1,9 billion euros if the number of migrants arriving on its shores will remain as low as it has been over the last 12 months. The possible destination for these funds is the subject of a paper, “Migrants: the integration challenge”, published by ISPI and CESVI. What to do with these savings? Researchers argue they should be invested in the integration process, the only way to cut welfare costs and maximise benefits for everyone, migrants and otherwise.
5. Trump’s new limit on refugees
US president Donald Trump plans to cap the number of refugees allowed into the country at 30.000. The annnuncement of the cap – the lowest ceiling for refugee admission since 1980 – has sparked much criticism. Bob Carey, the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Obama administration, described the measure as “disturbing and tragic“.
Meanwhile, according to Spanish minister for foreign affairs Josep Borrell, Trump urged Spain to build a wall against migrants across the Sahara, following the example of his proposed wall between the US and Mexico.
6. Brexit. Immigration report finds migrant workers do not steal Britons’ jobs
When almost 17.5 million people voted for Brexit, immigration concerns were at the forefront of many of their minds. Migrant workers were accused of stealing jobs and held responsible for driving down wages, leading to an increasing crime and bleeding the social welfare system dry.
A new 140-page report from the Migration Advisory Committee attempts to explain the effects of European Economic Area (EEA) immigration into the UK and paints a very different picture.
EEA workers are paying more in taxes than they are taking out in benefits, and as David Olusoga wrote in the Guardian, “they have been part of the solution much more often than the source of the problem”.
7. Still no passport for Afghan child refugees in Pakistan
As many as 1.5 million children born to Afghan refugees in Pakistan are denied citizenship. Prime minister Imran Khan had promised to start work to provide them with passports, but following strong push-back from the military and key coalition partners such as Balochistan, the promise seems to have been dropped.
Excluded from the education system and deprived of employment, the Afghan refugees are facing an increasingly critical situation. As Giulio Battiston wrote in his report for Open Migration, thousands of them have ended up returning to their war-torn country.
8. A controversial terrorism conviction in Hungary
A controversial decision has cast a new shadow on the treatment of migrants and refugees in Hungary. The appeals court in the southern city of Szeged has upheld a “terrorism” conviction against a Syrian refugee, Ahmed H., and reduced his seven-year sentence to 5 years. The charges stem from an incident on the Hungarian-Serbian border in 2015, during a confrontation between a group of asylum seekers and police. Ahmed was caught on tape throwing stones in the direction of police. Experts and activists have protested the decision, with Amnesty International calling on Hungary to stop abusing terrorism laws.
9. A majority of europeans favor taking in refugees
Three Europeans out of four support taking in refugees fleeing violence and war, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 10 countries, including Italy. Spain is the most welcoming EU countries for refugees, followed by The Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. Italy offered a surprising find: despite the increasing political crackdown on immigrants and widespread concerns over refugees in the country, 56% of those interviewed are in favour of taking them in.
10. Honorary citizenship to be granted to children of foreign parents in Livorno
The City of Livorno has approved a motion to grant honorary citizenship to children born in the city from foreign parents. The ceremony is scheduled for November 20th.
Meanwhile, after collecting graphic materials online, Solo In Cartolina – the campaign parody that revisits summer postcards – is coming to Italian cities. On September 30th, at the Pantheon in Rome, everybody will be able to choose their favourite postcards, out of 10,000 printed out on recycled paper, and write a protest message to the Ministry of Interior.
Foto di copertina via piervincenzocanale