Italy takes a hard line on immigration in a move that harps back to its fascist era under Mussolini.
The Italian Parliament last week approved a law criminalising illegal immigration and allowing citizens’ patrols to help the police keep order, the BBC reports.
The measures have been strongly criticised by human rights groups and the Vatican.
Illegal immigration will be punishable by a heavy fine and anyone caught knowingly housing illegal migrants will face up to three years in prison.
The law, passed in the Senate (upper house) on Thursday, also extends detention periods for illegal migrants to six months.
The unarmed citizens’ patrols are among the most controversial and worrying measures.
A right-wing uniformed group called the Italian National Guard was set up last month, likened by some to Benito Mussolini’s Fascists. It vowed to start patrolling the streets.
But Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said the group, which sports beige uniforms and black military-style hats, would not be allowed to mount street patrols.
Mr Maroni, a member of the anti-immigration Northern League, has steered the legislation through parliament.
The party is a key ally of Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and made tougher measures against immigration a condition of its support for his re-election last year.
The new law makes illegal immigration punishable by a fine of 5,000 to 10,000 Euros (£4,276 – £8,553).
It also requires parents registering a birth to present documents proving that they are legal residents.
Italy has just introduced a policy of returning boatloads of migrants to Libya before they can claim asylum.
The government says it faces an unmanageable flood of immigrants, many arriving on outlying islands which do not have the means to cope.
More than 36,000 migrants landed on the shores of Italy last year – an increase of about 75% on the year before.
Critics say the government is targeting especially immigrants and Roma (Gypsies).
The Vatican said the new law was “focusing on crime and leaving integration completely out of the picture”.
The UK has recently introduce togh crackdowns on illegal immigrant and those who employ undocumented workers. Empoyer can now face a £10000 civil penalty for each illegal worker. See Employers face £10000 fine for each illegal worker
Whilst Italy’s new has no immediate bearing on UK immigration policy, the move is part of a growing right wing resurgence throught Europe.
In the May European elections, the BNP won its first seat in the European Parliament. Source BBC
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