September 6, 2008 Saturday
U.K. 1st Edition
Crackdown on immigration. . . the Italian way
September 6, 2008
By Michael Day
HOME Secretary Jacqui Smith faced renewed pressure last night to follow Italy's example and get tough on illegal immigrants.
The Italian government is targeting thousands of immigrants in shanty towns and will fingerprint them, including babies, after being given the all clear by the European Union.
More troops are also being sent on to the streets to tackle crime.
Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: "If other countries can do this then so can we.
"There is a great deal we could do to crack down on illegal immigration but we have not done it." Official estimates say there are around 500,000 illegal immigrants in the UK whereas some campaigners argue it could be double that.
Ms Smith faced ridicule in June when she set lower targets for immigration raids and prosecutions for the current year than were achieved last year.
And a few days later she shelved plans to make families pay a GBP 1,000 bond before they could bring relatives to Britain for a visit.
"Sponsors" instead now face a range of penalties if relatives overstay their visa. In Italy there are already emergency laws to make it easier to expel European Union citizens deemed a threat.
Its fingerprinting scheme for migrant gypsies and other immigrants has been attacked as racist by its opposition MPs and by the European Parliament. But the European Union declared last night the controversial measure was not discriminatory.
The Italian Government says the move is needed to monitor thousands of Romanians who have no documentation, and to crack down on crime. Interior minister Roberto Maroni said: "By October 15 we'll complete the census and then we'll proceed with sending children to school with the expulsion of those who don't have the right to be in Italy." He said that the government would collaborate with Unicef over the deportations.
And he revealed soldiers had arrested 93 people, 63 of whom were foreigners, since the army was sent out to tackle street crime a month ago. Critics say the measures will merely cause criminals to move elsewhere.
Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister, further angered Left-wing opponents yesterday by refusing to allow immigrants the right to vote.
"It's not in our programme, " he said, before announcing that he would adopt English-style measures to fight Italy's notorious football hooligans.
Trouble flared again last weekend when hundreds of passengers fled in terror from a train in Naples after it was stormed by 800 football thugs, on their way to Rome.
The yobs* wrecked several carriages, and then injured 10 police offices in fierce battles in Rome, where knives, hammers and even explosive materials were found.
from Lexis Nexis
*YOB - British slang for "a teenage lout or hooligan" (from dictionary.com)