All in the name of safety

Italy makes illegal immigration a crime, greenlights citizen patrols

Editorial Staff
July 16, 2009

The Italian government is under increased criticism for having approved a new security package that cracks down on illegal immigration. Despite the censure of human rights groups and the Vatican, the law was passed in the Senate on July 2, with 157 in favour and 124 against. The lower house passed it in May.


The most controversial aspects of the measure have to do with illegal immigration, making it punishable by fines up to 10,000 euro. The security bill targets illegal immigration in other ways. Those who knowingly house or rent apartments to illegal immigrants face up to three years in prison. Those who help illegal immigrants gain entry into the country can face up to 15 years in prison.


Those without legal residency or work permits will not have access to public services. The law also extends detention periods for illegal migrants from two to six months. Immigrants seeking a legal residency permit or Italian citizenship must pay from 80 to 200 euro.


Also a subject of controversy are the unarmed, voluntary citizens' patrols now allowed, under the new measure, to help police monitor city streets.


The package also legalizes the possession of pepper spray for self-defense, enacts tougher penalties against organized crime and sets fines up to 1,000 euro for vandalism and graffiti that defaces public property.


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