Italian government 'poised to welcome half a million migrants'

 ROME -– Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s right-wing government in a surprise move to be discussed at a special cabinet meeting Thursday is planning to allow as many as half a million legal migrants to enter Italy through new humanitarian corridors to be set up, official sources say. The plan and new measures to crack down on people smugglers follows charges by the centre-left opposition that the 'post-fascist' government left as many as 72 migrants including dozens of children to die in a shipwreck off Calabria last week in which the Coast Guard shamefully failed to launch a rescue operation even though the asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Syria were drowning just 150 M from the coast.  

 The decision to facilitate the legal migration process, regular entries, and strike down on smugglers comes after the Calabrian shipwreck in which over 70 people lost their lives. The new proposal will be on the table of the Council of Ministers symbolically organized in Cutro where the tragedy took place. 

 Within the proposal, are new migration parameters that are yet to be defined and confirmed as there is some disagreement amongst the majority of ministers, political sources say. The proposal's main points include humanitarian corridors, new and more extensive flows, simplifications for those who want to enter Italy legally, and measures to improve reception in the centers. The proposal is also to include tougher penalties for smugglers and to implement more effective expulsions for those who enter Italy illegally.

 Certainly, if the policies and decrees presented in the proposal were to be confirmed it would lead to the isolation of zenophobic Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini,  observers say. Whilst Meloni said she was satisfied with the response of the President of the EU Commission Ursula Von der Leyen for a different and collective approach to the migration issue, Salvini publicly sang a countermelody on social media. Salvini went as far as sharing an excerpt of a speech by British PM Rishi Sunak, where he said: “If you arrive illegally in the United Kingdom, you cannot ask for asylum, you cannot benefit from our system of protection from modern slavery, you cannot claim bogus humanitarian protection, you cannot you can stay.”

 Specifically, the sections within the proposal that mention “simplifications of regulations and bureaucratic procedures for those who ask to enter legally, starting from the countries of North Africa, and the creation of humanitarian corridors and a new "temporal and extension" intervention of the flows as well as measures to improve reception in the centers.” are not in line with the views previously expressed by Fratelli Di Italia on immigration. 

 Against the backdrop of this proposal however, Lega Nord has also come forward with a proposal for a law that imposes a tightening of residence permits for immigrants, re-proposing the measures of the 2018 security decrees. Lega’s proposal shall arrive at the Constitutional Affairs Commission in the Chamber, and is likely to heighten the tension and confrontation between the majority parties on the immigration issue. 

 Lega Nord leader in Montecitorio, Riccardo Molinari commented saying:  "We will discuss it in the commission and see if FdI will vote for them or not.”

 Although the comments specifically coming from the leaders of Lega Nord present the issues as a type of tug-of-war process between the center-right parties, Giorgia Meloni is apparently steering clear of the ‘infantry’ currently taking place between majority parties. 

 She met with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte who commented on Italy’s migration issue saying: “there will be 3 points of discussion, how to dismantle the "cynical" system of smugglers, how to improve NGO operations, how to implement the difference between primary and secondary migration”. Three “hows” that have a certain level of complexity.” For now, Meloni said she is satisfied with the response of the European Union to the recent shipwreck and its novel approach to immigration, however, other ministers in her and other majority parties seem to disagree, and tensions might result in a different outcome regarding the immigration issue.