You can’t miss them in Milan – the Africans, Asians and North Africans huddled on street corners, sheets laid out with fake designer handbags or toys on the ground in front of them. They’re constantly on the lookout for the police, ready to run should they catch sight of one. No wonder – since earlier this month being an illegal immigrant in Italy is a crime punishable with a fine of up to $13,000.
Italy has taken the hardest line on immigration in the EU, and tonight we’re going to be live from a hostel for immgrants in Milan to talk about it.
In addition to a hefty fine, the new law means people renting accomodation to illegal immigrants could face up to 3 years in jail. It also permits the formation of unarmed ‘citizen patrol’ groups to help keep order.
Critics of Italy’s policy say it’s a populist, racist move which demonised immigrants without solving any of the problems which have led to them being such a visible presence on the streets.
The Italian government says it’s a necessary move to try to stop the country being swamped by foreigners who are behind much of the crime in Italy.
I’ll post again a bit later on this but here are a few things to think about in the mean time: do you think a hardline is the only approach that is effective in the fight against illegal immigration?
Italy has recruited medical staff into the fight against illegal immigration: doctors are now authorised to inform the authorities if they see a patient without legal papers. Is it to bring doctors and nurses into it?
And what about citizen patrols? Would you be happy to see unarmed groups of citizens helping to patrol around your home in order to keep the peace, and keep away illegal immigrants?