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Salvini furious as Italian mayors defy new immigration rules

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Salvini furious as Italian mayors defy new immigration rules
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
13:59 CET+01:00
Clashes over migration between Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Italian mayors continue, with several city mayors now refusing to follow Salvini’s orders.

Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo, has been joined by left-leaning mayors in Naples and Florence who say they will not apply some parts of the decree which they believe to be unconstitutional.

Salvini today demanded the resignations of the rebellious leaders of Florence, Palermo and Naples, with the last escalating the row by also offering to take in migrants stranded at sea that Italy has turned away.

Salvini accused Orlando of civil disobedience yesterday, after the Sicilian mayor ordered Palermo’s registry office to ignore a clause in Salvini’s controversial new security decree that would deny migrants the right to apply for full residency after two-year asylum stays.

"This (law) incites criminality, rather than fighting or preventing it," Orlando said.

 

Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando. Photo: Marcello Paternostro/AFP.

Orlando argued that the measure was not in line with Italy’s constitution, saying the decree unfairly strips migrants of access to basic healthcare and other local services.

He said excluding migrants from society in this way would lead to potential criminalisation.

"Ours is not an act of civil disobedience or conscientious objection, but the simple application of the constitutional rights that are guaranteed to all those who live in our country," Orlando told Repubblica.

Florence mayor Dario Nardella said his city would "not bow to" a law which "expels asylum-seekers and, without repatriating them, throws them out onto the street".

Orlando said he wanted to take the issue to a judge, hoping the Constitutional Court would examine the security decree and decide whether or not it complies with the constitution.

In a series of furious tweets and Facebook Live broadcasts today, Salvini said  “those who help the illegal migrants hate Italians, and they will answer to the law and to history.”

He insinuated that the mayors who disagreed with parts of his decree were benefiting from the migrant reception business, tweeting: "Certain mayors look back fondly on the good old times of immigration, but for them the party is over!"

Meanwhile, the mayors of Naples, Messina and Reggio Calabria have also clashed with Salvini on the issue of whether to open or close their ports to migrants arriving by sea from north Africa. 

READ ALSO:Thousands march against Italy's new anti-migrant law

Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris said today that the city’s port would be open to Sea Watch, an NGO ship that has been stuck at sea for days, unable to dock with 32 migrants on board.

"I hope this boat comes to Naples because, despite what the government says, we will let it into the port," he said, promising to lead a rescue effort.

Following the mayor’s statement, Salvini reiterated that Italian ports are closed to NGO migrant rescue ships

Co-deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement, dismissed the mayors’ stance as attention-seeking.

"It's just electioneering on the part of mayors who have to feel a bit leftwing by making noise," said Di Maio, who is also labour minister.

These mayors are not the first to get on the wrong side of Salvini.

Domenico Lucano, the former mayor of the Calabrian town of Riace that built a successful economic growth model welcoming migrants, has been the target of Salvini’s verbal attacks and is currently under house arrest after being charged with aiding and abetting illegal immigration.

READ ALSO: Anger over Italian government's 'war' on model migrant town

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