Italy’s populist League leader Matteo Salvini has called for the country’s next interior minister to be a member of his party, citing his successes in tackling illegal immigration while in the job.
The Lega leader, who served as Italy’s interior minister in 2018 and 2019, visited the island of Lampedusa earlier this week, which has been flooded and overwhelmed by illegal migrant arrivals in recent months.
Salvini said he wanted to close migrant reception centers and instead set up centers abroad in North Africa to process asylum claims – similar to a policy supported by the British government through its deal with Rwanda that was finalized earlier this year.
While Salvini did not directly say he wanted to return as interior minister after the Sept. 25 national election, he said he would like a member of his party to take on the role.
“I rely on a man or woman from the League in the Viminale [Interior Ministry] why we wrote the security orders. I think, in terms of immigration, that in 2018 and 2019, Italy was a safer, more protected, more European country. I will go wherever the Italians send me,” said Salvini.
Salvini: Only 15 percent of illegals obtained refugee status in 2021https://t.co/baLc1d0Qyf
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 5, 2022
Salvini has campaigned on illegal immigration since the start of the national election campaign after the fall of the technocratic “unity” government led by former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi last month.
Earlier this week, Salvini said that just 15 percent of illegal immigrants who arrived in Italy last year were granted refugee status and that the majority of their applications were rejected.
He also noted that in July this year Italy saw more arrivals of illegal immigrants than in the whole of 2019.
During his visit to Lampedusa, Salvini commented on the state of the island’s overcrowded migrant reception centre, saying: “I would like this center to close in a few months. There is a lot of money that could be spent in another way.”
“I want to remember with pride that with the safety orders deaths at sea were halved. It is clear that the more people leave [for Italy]… the more people die,” he added.
Salvini’s tough policies on illegal immigration were indeed credited with not only reducing illegal immigration but also reducing drownings in the Mediterranean Sea.
Salvini: Migrant Drownings Caused by ‘Do-Gooders’ Reopening Ports, Encouraging Smugglers https://t.co/AlAjFl8x2X
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 20, 2019