ROME, (Reuters) – Foreigners who live legally in Italy could in future be kicked out of the country if they pose a threat to public order or national security, according to a draft government decree seen by Reuters.
The measure, set for adoption at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, is part of a crackdown pledged by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing administration in response to a surge in boat arrivals from North Africa.
The draft decree also states that in times of large influxes of migrants, reception centres would be able to host up to twice the number of people they are normally allowed to.
With authorities struggling to accommodate the rise in unaccompanied migrant children, the draft allows for minors over the age of 16 to be held in reception centres for adults for up to three months.
It also provides for the expulsion of migrants who falsely claim to be underage, and gives police broader powers to estimate the age of incoming migrants using body measurements and X-rays.
Once approved by cabinet the decree would be immediately effective, but would need to be ratified by parliament within two months or else it would lapse. During ratification, it may be amended.
Meloni’s ruling coalition swept into power last year promising to curb immigration. But in the year to date, more than 133,000 migrants have arrived across the Mediterranean against just under 70,000 in the same period of 2022.
The government last week signed off on new measures to lengthen the time migrants can be detained and increase the number of detention centres, in an effort to deter them from embarking on sea crossings.
In a move criticised by the opposition and rights groups, Meloni’s administration also decreed that migrants would have to pay almost 5,000 euros ($5,288) to avoid detention while their request for protection was being processed.
($1 = 0.9455 euros)