Italy’s new interior minister Matteo Salvini has a message for migrants “Pack Your Bags”. Salvini will be in Sicily Sunday to push the anti-immigration platform that propelled him to power at one of the country’s main landing points for refugees.
The head of the League is on the road seeking to rally support for his party’s candidates in municipal elections later this month, as part of a broader effort to boost the traditionally secessionist party’s profile in the country’s poorer south.
But immigration is Salvini’s primary bugbear and the newly minted deputy prime minister in Italy’s populist coalition government has added a stop in migration hotspot Pozzallo.
The port town in Sicily’s south is on the front line: one of the main places where boats bring refugees invading Europe from North Africa and the Middle East.
Salvini took his oath of office, while another boat with 158 people was landing in Pozzallo after being rescued by another boat in an operation coordinated by the Italian coast guard.
Salvini had said after being sworn in that he would ask his ministry’s experts “how to reduce the number of arriving migrants and increase the number of expulsions”.
“The good times for illegals migrants is over — get ready to pack your bags,” he said Saturday at a rally in Italy’s north.
He promised Italians they will speed up deportations — of which there were just 6,500 in 2017 — Salvini will have to increase the number of detention centres and sign agreements with origin countries, many of which are not eager to re-receive their citizens.
In a bid to find funds, Salvini is eyeing the billions of euros set aside every year to deal with the demands of the illegal invaders.