Anti-Migrant Leader Pushes to Win National Power in Italy

Frances D'Emilio, Associated Press, December 8, 2017

The leader of an Italian party that hopes to capitalize on growing resentment of migrants and asylum-seekers told supporters in Rome Sunday it would be “splendid” if he wins national elections and his government can issue one-way tickets home to undeserving refugees.

Matteo Salvini wants to propel his anti-migrant Northern League, which was founded in 1991 as a regional party in Italy’s affluent north, to its first premiership in the national election set for early 2018.

To do so, Salvini needs to build support in the south, an underdeveloped area of Italy the League has long denigrated as living off government aid.

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Domeniconi was referring to the hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and economic migrants that have received shelter in Italy after being rescued at sea from traffickers’ boats setting out from the Libyan coast.

Opinion surveys have found that many Italians blame the newcomers for crime.

“The Salvini government will have the (nation’s) doors wide open for women and children who are fleeing war, but not for those bringing war to our home,” Salvini told the rally. For the latter, “we need one-way tickets to send them back.”

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Currently, children born in Italy to migrants with long-term residence permits have to wait until they reach age 18 to seek Italian citizenship. The proposed law would make children as young as 12 who are born in Italy, as well as those arriving as youngsters, eligible to request citizenship after five years of schooling in Italy.

Saying that citizenship “isn’t an electoral gift,” Salvini told the approving crowd that the legislation “won’t happen thanks to the League and you.”

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Salvini at the rally heaped praise on U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the former for tax reform and fighting illegal immigration and the latter for “defending values and national borders.”

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