Italy’s ‘tough’ new immigration policy for boat migrants is actually a sign of weakness

Conservatives are applauding Italy’s stance on NGO migrant boats, but the current policy will fail when it comes to halting illegal immigration

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: John Cody
Rome, Italy - October 26, 2022: Giorgia Meloni, Italy's prime minister, right, and Matteo Salvini, Italy's infrastructure minister, talk during a debate at the Senate ahead of a confidence vote. (Source: Shutterstock)

Conservatives are hailing Italy’s stance towards boat migrants, but the reality is that the policy is a markedly weaker stance than that of Matto Salvini during the 2018 migrant crisis when he served as interior minister.

At the time, Salvini was adamant that no boat migrants should enter Italy, effectively blocking all the ports in an effort to secure the border.

Now, the current conservative government, which Salvini also serves in but this time as infrastructure minister, is taking a different tack. Although the government first objected to any migrant boats docking in Italy, it quickly backtracked and said only certain types of migrants would be allowed onto Italian soil, namely women, children, and those with a medical condition. In reality, what this translated into was hundreds of migrants arriving in Italy, on top of the 90,000 taken in already this year under the previous left-wing government.

Italy may have rejected one migrant boat, the Ocean Viking, which went to France, but it also allowed three others to dock at Italian ports. After France took in 234 migrants from the Ocean Viking, Emmanuel Macron reacted with “outrage” over the matter and responded by canceling plans to take 3,000 migrants from Italy. Macron’s claim that Italy is inhumane for refusing to take in hundreds of migrants while in turn punishing Italy by refusing to take in 3,000 may be absurd, but media outlets mostly turn a blind eye to such double standards.

Meloni has responded by saying, “I wonder if it is believed that Italy should be, by everyone else’s choice, the only possible port of disembarkation for migrants arriving from Africa? I believe that this is not right. And when somebody says that Italy has not been willing to behave like a responsible European state, look, I can state that on the same day that the Ocean Viking was being discussed, Italy disembarked 600 people.”

Many conservatives will argue that something is better than nothing, and some would also argue that Italy is doing the “right thing” by taking the “humanitarian” route and sending back “fighting-age males” while taking in minors, women, and the ill. However, the reality is that the Meloni government’s decision to accept certain classes of migrants is a major concession — the type of concession that has continuously led to the ongoing Great Replacement in the West.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who the current Italian government sees as a close ally, is implementing no such “humanitarian” measures. In fact, he has said in the past that the future of Africans belongs in Africa, with no caveats made for the hundreds of millions of women and children who would likely settle in Europe given the opportunity.

“The future of Africans, for example, must be in Africa; just as the future of Hungarians must be in Europe,” Orbán said in 2020. “If we (Hungarians) don’t want to see cases such as Nice, we must not allow them in. Apart from the few already here, we do not want new entrants, especially not (illegal) migrants.”

Hungary may do what it can to help, but that does not mean it is going to surrender its borders over such arguments. While some migrants may slip through, the Hungarian government’s explicit goal is to halt all illegal immigration, which was also the policy of Italy’s last conservative government.

Reading this, some will blame Meloni’s government for not taking a harder line on immigration, but the reality is that Meloni, in all likelihood, would like to stamp out all illegal immigration entirely but is likely too scared to do so; she is also perhaps hoping for the day when she is in a better position to take action on the issue.

The Italian leader is in many ways in a far more tenuous position than Salvini was in 2018. For one, Italy is facing not only an economic crisis but also a debt crisis. As Remix News previously reported, the EU could stop buying Italian debt if the country steps out of line. Equally worrisome for the Italian government are threats regarding EU funding cuts, which European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen already warned about on the eve of the Italian election.

“We will see the result of the vote in Italy,” said von der Leyen at the time. “If things go in a difficult direction — and I’ve spoken about Hungary and Poland — we have the tools.”

In other words, if Italy starts enforcing a strict immigration policy, the EU has many ways to retaliate.

On top of these external issues are a variety of domestic concerns. After Salvini fell from power, it was not long before the prosecution cases were launched against him for his decision to block Italy’s ports; the man was facing up to 15 years in prison for “kidnapping.” Even after secret recordings revealed the political bias behind such cases and a judge threw one of them out, Salvini continued facing trials for merely promoting a strong border. While these cases have not yet resulted in a conviction, they are certain to have a chilling effect on the new government.

The second factor is the historically unstable nature of Italian governments, which often fail to last even a year before collapsing. This likely means Meloni’s government is afraid to take risks, especially during a time when her country is facing the aforementioned inflation and economic crisis — the same one threatening to bring down a range of governments across Europe, even when many of those governments have the support of Brussels.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (FdI) party also has no experience governing at the national level, and the same type of deep-state and institutional roadblocks that consistently stymie conservative governments across the Western world exists in Italy as well. Remix News detailed a wide range of these roadblocks, all the way from a left-liberal, technocratic president in Italy that can veto legislation to an array of judges and bureaucrats with their eyes on bringing down the Meloni government.

Meloni is now proposing a shared EU solution to stopping the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, saying, “It seems to me the smart thing to do. And the only common, possible, and serious solution that I proposed recently, even when I talked with Emmanuel Macron, but which I also proposed when I talked with Olaf Scholz, and which I also proposed when I talked with Ursula von der Leyen, and which I discuss with everybody: is the defense of the external borders of the European Union.”

No such solution will be presented, because the truth is that Brussels not only has little interest in stopping mass immigration but actively promotes it. The same holds true for much of Europe’s leadership class.

Hungary and Poland are serving as the “test cases” right now, with both governments facing extreme pressure from Brussels, which is withholding tens of billions in EU funding over rule-of-law issues and judicial reform. Italy is likely wary of putting itself in a similar position.

Nevertheless, conservatives need to be aware that Italy’s current migration stance is unsustainable. In fact, by allowing women and children to disembark without any plan to deport them back to their countries, Italy is tacitly stating they have the right to stay in Europe.

There are hundreds of millions of migrants who want to settle in Western nations, both in Europe and North America, and many of them are women and children. In fact, over half of young Africans want to migrate, with most of them eyeing Western nations. The United Nations just announced today that the world population hit 8 billion, with the lion’s share of population growth occurring in Africa.

Many of these future migrants are impoverished, many have illnesses, and virtually all of them have a lower standard of living than Europeans. Does this mean that the hundreds of millions of people who want to settle in the West have the right to do so? Even if Italy were only to take in women, children, and the ill going forward, family reunification programs mean that many of these “fighting-age” males will make their way to Europe anyway. In addition, the true age of many migrants has always been suspect, with many of them posing as minors to gain access to the West, as has been the case in Germany, Belgium, and France.

The reality is that the world is not a kind place, and countries across Africa face abject misery going into the future largely due to an uncontrolled population explosion. Politicians from the West can do the best they can to improve conditions in these countries, as proposed by Hungary, but the “humanitarian” argument is a trap that must be avoided. NGOs, opportunistic politicians, the left-liberal media, and those who see demographic change as an electoral weapon will use words like “humanitarian” to get what they want. When the right adopts this rhetoric, it makes it that much harder to implement smart policy like an immigration moratorium, which is what Europe and the United States both desperately need.

Italians want an end to mass immigration, which is a large part of the reason why a conservative government was elected to power. There is little doubt that Italy’s efforts to block its ports, even if a token gesture, is a step in the right direction, but let us not kid ourselves. The stance of sending back “fighting-age males” but taking everybody else in with no plans for immediate deportation is hardly a “victory.” It instead represents a serious setback for a government that vowed to crack down on illegal immigration.

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