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African migrants in Rome. Photo supplied

In Italy migrants use repatriations to go on holiday

It is a surreal situation in Italy, in the Italian port city Livorno on the west coast of Tuscany. The police are forced to spend the money they need to cover mission expenses to repatriate irregular immigrants.

Published: January 12, 2020, 7:38 am


    The provincial secretary general of the Italian Union of Union Workers for Police (Siulp), Angela Bona,  said the police are forced to pay up to guarantee the safety of the citizens of Livorno. Bona pointed out that “to expel irregular migrants, the police paid the mission expenses out of their own pockets”.

    Bona recounted two episodes that occurred in the city in the last days of December: “In the first case, the illegal immigrant was accompanied to the CIE of Trapani by a scheduled flight paid by the Ministry, but the two agents had to anticipate the foreigner’s expenses and livelihood. On their return they had a refund.”

    This spending is something that is being repeated on a regular basis. And, even if the Ministry of the Interior “must pay the agents an advance” – at the end of each year “there is no money because the budget is closed around Christmas”.

    The second case ended in a refusal: “During the checks in Piazza Garibaldi, one of the most critical districts of Livorno for crime, an illegal immigrant was identified.” After being warned, the immigration office “gave orders for the man to be accompanied to an identification center”. Subsequently the policemen “asked for the mission allowance but […] this time they refused to advance the money”.

    Felice Romano, general secretary of the Siulp, explained that in addition to the economic damage suffered by the police, is the mockery that voluntary repatriations increase around Christmas when “foreigners want to be repatriated at our expense to spend the holidays with the family”.

    It is not the first time that police unions have denounced the state in which Italian law enforcement agencies are now forced to operate. Stations are currently forced to advance the money for such repatriation missions even though they already struggle balance their budgets.

    The particular case reported after an investigation published by the daily Giorno, is by no means isolated. Indeed, according to Romano, such reports are becoming increasingly commonplace. And the agents have to suffer the consequences.

    It is true that, as the trade unionist himself explains, a fund was created at the police headquarters, but the money from the immigration police directorate only arrives every six months. “When the fund runs out, we pay out of our own pockets”, explains Siulp’s number one, revealing, without too many words, that this lack of resources allows several hundred illegal immigrants to roam around Italy without any control.

    The problems are not just related to the lack of funds. In the interview in Giorno, he underscored the flaws in the decree wanted by the former leftist Interior Minister Marco Minniti. That law, according to Romano, allows the police only a “very short time to identify the immigrant, have the judge’s approval, certify his health at the hospital and take him to an reception center or expel him” .

    In this way, they find themselves having to fight against such a “swampy bureaucratic machine” that eventually allows the irregular ones be set free immediately even when they have enough money to leave.

    They make use of the bureaucratic overload to stay in Italy or be repatriated “at our expense to spend the holidays with the family” Romano said.

    When an illegal immigrant cannot be accompanied to the CIE, the obligation of draft article 15 of the consolidated public safety text dated 18 June 1931 is triggered: “So the irregular citizen, instead of being removed from Livorno, was released free of circulate in the area and invited to reappear in the following days at the police station.” The illegal foreigner of course never showed up.

    The union, as reported by Il Giorno , has therefore denounced the situation: “We can’t take it anymore, someone has to take on their responsibilities. We want to know how we should behave.”

    Lorenzo Suraci , police commissioner from Livorno, assured the media that he will work to clarify what happened and confirmed: “Every year the funds run out to pay for transfers, a problem about which, however, I  do not decide.”

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    • LuciusAnnaeusSeneca

      Under the previous government , with Matteo Salvini as Interior Minister, the Italian police and security forces were well taken care of, and received adequate funding and other support. Under the current government things are a lot different, and the morale as well as the operational capabilities of the Italian police and Carabinieri seem to be on the decline. The Italian public know this, and are likely to make their feelings known in the upcoming state elections in Emilia-Romagna and Calabria the week after next (on the 26th). Both parties in the current government coalition, the M5S and the PD, are likely to suffer losses at the hands of resentful and angry Italian voters.


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