New Italian Prime Minister A Blow To Immigrants
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Earlier this week, Italians re-elected Right Wing, plastic-faced media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi as their Prime Minister after the fall of the center-left Prodi government. This is not good news for Italyâ€™s immigrants. Quite often I hear that the European Union with its no-borders political ethic is a good model for U.S. immigration policy. But people forget that Europeâ€™s borders are only open internally and that Europe takes great pains to keep â€œundesirablesâ€ out of the continent altogether. Italy, with its long coastlines and its very short history of receiving immigrants, has clamped down on immigration to ingratiate itself with its European neighbors and to bolster a coherent cultural identity.
Like many countries in Europe with aging and shrinking populations, theyâ€™d like to keep immigrant labor but not immigrants themselves. For a while, before and after Berlusconi, the country began to see the inhumanity of that stance and started to create integration programs. In his last term, Berlusconi backed the notorious Bossi-Fini laws which punished immigrants by making legal status almost impossible to sustainâ€“ it banned family sponsorship, restricted migrants to 6 month stays if theyâ€™re unemployed, and criminalized undocumented people.