Italy's lower house of parliament, the Camera dei deputati, has approved a new immigration-security decree advocated by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini — handing him his first big win.
The new decree, voted 396 to 99 late on Wednesday, clamps down on asylum rights and hardens security measures as a way of preventing terrorist attacks on Italian soil. Euronews has compiled a list of the main points of the decree (which is available in full here).
1) Cancellation of asylum protection on 'humanitarian' grounds
The new rules eliminate the possibility of granting protection to refugees on "humanitarian" grounds, which covered cases such as homosexuals fleeing countries with anti-LGBT laws.
Under the new decree, the Italian government will only grant asylum to refugees of war or victims of political persecution and hand out special permits of a maximum duration of one year for all other cases.
2) Extension of duration of foreigners in detention centres
Italy will now be able to detain foreigners up to 180 days before repatriating them. That's the period considered necessary to verify the identity and nationality of the migrant.
3) Easier withdrawal of protection
Asylum seekers will now be able to lose their protection if they are found guilty of a felony. The list of crimes for which migrants can now be expelled for includes threats or violence to a public official and a variety of theft charges.
4) Weakening of local integration programmes for asylum seekers
The new rules also weaken the network of integration programmes which provide asylum seekers with tools to better integrate into their local communities (known as SPRAR in Italian). The system will now only be open to those whose asylum requests have been accepted.
On security measures:
The decree also boosts funds for police and anti-mafia administrators. It also allows police the use of electric teasers.
As a response to terrorist attacks in Europe, the law increases control on people who rent trucks and strips naturalised foreigners convicted on terrorism charges of their Italian citizenship.
Critics say the decree will increase the number of migrants in irregular legal situations. They warn those with no papers will turn to illegal activities to make ends meet since they will not be able to be employed or receive social benefits.
Matteo Villa, a research fellow at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, tweeted back in September that if the "humanitarian" protection was eliminated, 60,000 people would find themselves with an irregular legal status in Italy by 2020.
Back in Parliament, the Italian Democratic Party voted against the decree. Maurizio Martina, the former secretary of the party, who's running again for the role, made his disapproval of the law public on Twitter.
"Salvini's insecurity decree is worse than Bossi Fini's. The Mayors are right: it will be a social bomb (100,000 irregulars in two years) and will make people weakest and least secure," he said.
The National Association of Italian Partisans (ANPI) said Salvini's new security decree would trigger "judicial apartheid" and called for "mobilisation and resistance" against the decree.