The mayors of several of Italy’s largest cities vowed this week to defy a new law backed by Italy’s far-right interior minister that strips legal immigration status from tens of thousands of immigrants already in the country.
Leoluca Orlando, the mayor of the southern port city of Palermo, is spearheading the movement, joined by mayors from cities including Florence, Naples, and Parma. This kind of revolt by municipal officials against a powerful ministry has little precedent in Italy, immigration advocates say.
The affected immigrants “were living [legally] in Palermo, living in Italy, working, paying the tax, paying contribution to social services, and in one day they become illegal,” Orlando said in a phone interview with BuzzFeed News on Thursday. Their integration into the city kept Palermo safer, he said, because they would report problems to the police or mayor’s office.
The only way to guarantee security is just to respect human rights … but we’re in front of the government that is against human rights, against the constitution,” Orlando continued. “We think that the migrants are human beings … we defend the only race existing — the human race… Whoever divides the races prepares Dachau and Auschwitz, prepares the genocide.”