During his visit to a refugee center in the south of Sicily, Italy’s newly appointed interior minister Matteo Salvini, known for his hardline stance on the migration issue in the country, warned illegal migrants to “get ready to pack your bags.”
The head of Italy’s Eurosceptic Lega party traveled to Sicily to advance the anti-immigration agenda in one of the country’s main landing points for refugees.
“Italy and Sicily cannot be Europe’s refugee camp. Nobody will take away my certainty that illegal immigration is a business… and seeing people make money on children who go on to die makes me furious,” he told a crowd of enthusiastic supporters in the town of Pozzallo.
His fiery speech came shortly after over 50 migrants were reported drowned off the coast of Tunisia, which has been viewed as a major departure point for those seeking to reach Italy.
“The good times for illegals is over – get ready to pack your bags,” he said, but added that the newly sworn-in government would not “take a hard line on immigration but one of common sense.”
Addressing major support for the Lega party in the election, Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros wrote in Corriere della Sera newspaper that it could, to some extent, be attributed to “Europe’s flawed migration policies that imposed an unfair burden on Italy.”
“Until recently, most refugees could move on to northern Europe, where they wanted to go. But since September 2015, both France and Austria closed their borders and the rescued migrants were stuck in Italy. This situation was not only unfair but also financially very burdensome at a time when Italy was economically lagging behind most other European countries. That was the main reason why Lega Nord, in particular, did so well in the recent elections,” he wrote.
Soros went on to claim that “it follows from the voluntary principle that the problem… cannot be addressed by forced resettlement, but only by the EU financially compensating Italy for the migrants that land there.”
European interior ministers are set to meet on June 5 in Luxembourg to discuss potential reforms of the bloc’s Dublin rule, which requires that would-be refugees file for asylum in the first EU member-state they arrive in.
Meanwhile, the Hungarian-born billionaire, who has been supporting NGOs helping migrants and the so-called refugee quotas, warned that the EU may “use the occasion to teach Italy a lesson.”
“There is a strong inclination in Europe to use the occasion [of the new government] to teach Italy a lesson… If the EU follows this line, it will dig its own grave by provoking a negative response from the Italian electorate, which would then re-elect Movimento 5 Stelle and Lega Nord with an increased majority.”
Salvini has denounced the Dublin rule, claiming it was unfairly penalizing Mediterranean nations and leading to “an obvious imbalance in management, numbers and costs.” The controversial rule has heavily burdened Italy, which has accepted more than 700,000 migrants since 2013.