Salvini insists migrant decree is State law

Clash with mayors continues

(ANSA) - Rome, January 4 - Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Friday insisted his migrant and security decree was a State law that must be respected amid a rebellion from some leftwing mayors including Palermo's Leoluca Orlando.
    Meanwhile a report that DIGOS security police visited Palermo's registry office after Orlando's move was denied by the Sicilian capital's police chief.
    DIGOS moved in after Orlando said earlier this week he would disobey some of the decree's provisions.
    Clerks told reporters: "They asked us what happens when we want to regularise the position of an asylum seeker and what procedure we are following".
    Orlando is one of 10 mayors who have rebelled against the decree saying it unfairly strips asylum seekers of rights.
    The DIGOS police reportedly asked registrars about Orlando's recent rejection of the security decree where it allegedly breaches migrants' Constitutional rights, according to early reports.
    But the office of the Palermo police chief said the reports were "devoid of all foundation". Meanwhile Deputy Premier and Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio backed his fellow deputy premier, Interior Minister Salvini, on the decree framed by Salvini which has spurred the mayors' rebellion.
    Amid reports of "bellyaching" by some of his 5-Star Movement (M5S) officials, Di Maio said any members of the government suffering "unease" over the decree should remember that they voted for it.
    The M5s, an anti-establishment party, is the senior government partner.
    Di Maio branded the protest from some leftwing mayors against stripping migrants of access to healthcare and other rights "a political boutade".
    He said if the mayors lodged appeals against some of the decree's provisions they would be assessed by the Constitutional Court.
    Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant and Euroskeptic League party, said the decree is a State law signed by President Sergio Matteralla.
    "There's no row, there's a State law, signed by the president of the republic and applied by 99% of mayors," he said.
    "There are 10 mayors who are protesting out of 8,000 across Italy," Salvini said.
    Piedmont Governor Sergio Chiamparino said "we are assessing whether the conditions are right to appeal to the Constitutional Court".
    He said "if the juridical conditions are there we won't waste a moment".
    Genoa Archbishop and head of European bishops Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said Friday that "no one wants to be subversive" about the security decree, "but there are problems that require judgements of conscience".
    Bagnasco said the mayors "will have to make their decisions, verify them at the right levels." He said "conscientious objection is a recognised principle.
    "Everyone will make their own decisions, naturally respecting the law".
    Asked if the decree impinged on human rights, as the rebel mayors contend, Bagnasco said "what I'm concerned about is that people with real needs should find help".
    Florence Mayor Dario Nardella on Friday said Salvini's description of the rebel mayors as "traitors" was a "grave" issue.
    Nardella, a member of the centre-left opposition Democratic party (PD), said "I find that in the history of the republic an interior minister has never called traitors mayors who are directly elected by their citizens and wear the tricolour sash.
    "You may also not agree with a mayor 100% but calling mayors traitors is a grave institutional issue and also a lack of respect for the citizens who elected them".
    DIGOS security police on Friday visited Palermo's public records office after Mayor Leoluca Orlando said earlier this week he would disobey some provisions in the government's security and migrants decree.
    Clerks told reporters: "They asked us what happens when we want to regularise the position of an asylum seeker and what procedure we are following".
    A sharp drop in migrant landings and a clampdown in the government's security decree are causing a marked fall in asylum requests, the interior ministry said Friday.
    In December there were 2,753 requests, down 27% on November's 3,784, it said.
    Requests that were denied rose to 5,870, 82% of the total, compared to 80% in November and 74% in October.
    Humanitarian protection, cancelled by the decree, fell to an all-time low, with permits granted to just 3% of applicants in December compared to 5% in November and 13% in October.
    The clash between Salvini and centre-left and left-leaning mayors on the minister's recent security and migrant decree is rumbling on, with the minister urging the officials to quit.
    The party is over for some leftwing mayors who allegedly benefited from migrant reception business, Salvini said.
    "With the (Democratic Party) it was chaos and clandestine migrants, with the League it is order and respect," he said.
    "Certain mayors look back fondly on the good old times of immigration, but for them too the party is over!".
    Salvini was commenting on a rebellion against his migrant-security decree by mayors including Orlando who say it unfairly strips some migrants of access to healthcare and other local services and allegedly ejects thousands of migrants from the system creating potential criminals.
    Orlando, for his part, said his perceived rebellion against Salvini's allegedly "inhuman" migrant clampdown had been "a dutiful institutional act".
    "Don't call me a rebel. My action is a dutiful institutional act, against a decree that authoritative men of the Church have described as inhuman", he said in press interviews.
    Orlando has been joined by other left-leaning mayors including de Magistris in Naples, Dario Nardella in Florence, and Federico Pizzarotti in Parma in saying they will not apply some allegedly unconstitutional norms in the decree.
    Orlando went on to say that he would turn to a judge to raise the issue of whether the decree complies with the Italian Constitution.
    He said he hoped raising the issue at a judicial level would lead to the Constitutional Court examining the decree.
    The other deputy premier, Salvini's ruling partner Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, accused the mayors of indulging in "electoral spots".
    "It's just electioneering on the part of mayors who have to feel a bit leftwing by making a bit of noise," said Di Maio, who is also labour and industry minister.
    Salvini said the mayors who did not agree with him "should resign".
    He said "Orlando and de Magistris, just quit".
    He also said the mayors should "respect" the signature of President Sergio Mattarella that is on the decree.
    Bari mayor Antonio Decaro, head of the Italian municipalities association ANCI, on Thursday noted that Salvini in the past called for the kind of civil disobedience, on civil unions, that he is now condemning over his migrant security decree.
    Decaro noted that "a short while ago, before becoming minister, he himself blatantly urged mayors to disobey a State law, that on civil unions," said Decaro.
    "Now he is threatening mayors" for doing the same thing, said the ANCI chief.
    Decaro said the new rules on migrants and security placed mayors in a position of "objective difficulty" and said he did not want to feed the clash with Salvini.
    "The mayors are asking for dialogue, they're not partying," he said in reference to Salvini's assertion that "the party is over" for mayors and their migrant activities.
    Milan Mayor Giuseppe 'Beppe' Sala said "Salvini should listen to us and change the decree".
    The Italian partisans association ANPI said it was "with the mayors who are resisting" and said the officials were trying to defend basic rights enshrined in the Constitution.
    Eighty minors who are "well integrated" into life in Palermo will soon turn 18 and become illegal proving that Salvini's security and migrant decree is "inhuman and crime-creating", Orlando told ANSA Thursday.
    "In Palermo, in 4-5 months, 80 minors, who are studying, working and are guests of the community where they live well integrated lives will turn 18 and will therefore be illegal," he said.
    "This is confirmation that this security decree is inhuman and crime-creating", he said.
    The number of unaccompanied minors currently in the reception centre at Palermo is around 250, the city councillor for solidarity-based citizenship, Giuseppe Mattina, added.
    The government should call the mayors for talks instead of issuing threats against them, centre-left opposition Democratic Party (PD) leadership contender Maurizio Martina said Thursday.
    "The mayors who are expressing their critical position towards the Salvini decree should be listened to, not insulted," said Martina, until recently a PD caretaker leader.
    "They should be called to discuss (the decree), not threatened.
    "Because they are the first to find themselves every day with the concrete issue of citizenship and security, of rules in rights and duties".
    The lack of respect for the law on the part of the mayors who have refused to implement parts of the government's security and migrant decree is "unacceptable", sources at the premier's office said Thursday.
    "The positions of local administrators who have publicly declared they do not intend to apply a State law are unacceptable," the sources said.
    "Our juridical system does not give mayors the power to say whether laws are constitutional or not: not applying a law that you don't like is the same as breaking it, with all the consequent responsibilities".
    But the sources said they would "welcome" a meeting of the mayors' association ANCI with Salvini and Premier Giuseppe Conte to iron out difficulties in applying the decree.


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