Immigrant group and associations oppose "law against immigrants"

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The Brescia Social Forum, one of many local associations which were born throughout Italy following the anti-G8 protest in Genoa in July, and two associations of immigrants, the Coordinamento degli immigrati in lotta (Coordination of Immigrants in Struggle) and the Forum delle associazioni dei migranti, (Forum of Migrant Associations) have called a demonstration in Brescia on 24 November against the proposed Bossi-Fini law on immigration [from kataweb]. Both rapporteurs for the new law are the leaders of parties (the Northern League, LN and National Alliance, AN) which have been widely condemned for their overtly discriminatory policies. The proposed law will be debated in parliament in January, and a national demonstration has been called to oppose it in Rome on 19 January 2002 as part of an on-going campaign starting on November 24, when further demonstrations are also planned in Genoa, Caserta and Bologna. If approved, the law would significantly alter the present law (Turco-Napolitano) [from kataweb], and the coalition calling the demonstration says:

"The amendments proposed are all aimed at worsening the living conditions of all the immigrants who are in Italy, whether or not they have a residence permit: it can be claimed that it isn't a law on immigration, but rather a law against immigrants."

The communique calling for the demonstration offers an analysis and highlights a number of problems in the new draft law. These include:

1) shortening the legth of time during which a residence permit issued following the first renewal is valid;
2) immigrants who lose their job can sign up with the employment office for six months, after which their residence permit will be withdrawn if they haven't found other employment;
3) it will take six years' legal residence, instead of five, for migrants to obtain a carta di soggiorno (a residence permit lasting for an indefinite period, allowing holders to be exempted from visa requirements, and granting them the right to work, access to public services, and participation in local public life including the right to vote in local elections)
4) the right to family reunion will be limited to the spouse and youngest children;
5) the use of "sponsors" for the insertion of immigrants into the labour market will be abolished;
6) new conditions and limitations to the possibility of entry to work will be introduced;
7) an immigrant who leaves Italy will no longer be allowed to demand the refund of obligatory social security contributions which he/she has paid;
8) expulsion will be immediately carried out, before there is any possibility of of judicial scrutiny, and appeals can be filed through Italian diplomatic bodies abroad;
9) expelled immigrants will not be allowed to return to Italy for ten years, instead of five, as is presently the case;
10) the time limit for detention in "centres of administrative detention" (see Statewatch vol 10 no 1) for people who are due to be expelled, will be extended from thirty to sixty days;
11) criminal sanctions will be introduced for persons who don't obey the order to leave Italy, or who return after being expelled;
12) asylum seekers awaiting decisions on their cases will be detained in special sections within "centres for temporary protection".

Immigrant collectives have been particularly active in struggling for their rights in Brescia, where a demonstration in May 2000 started a nationwide mobilisation for undocumented migrants to obtain resident permits as part of a regularisation process that started in 1998 (see Statewatch vol 10 no 3/4). On 13 October 2001 Radio Onda d'Urto, a radio station which has been supporting the initiatives by immigrants, reported that 10,000 persons marched in Brescia to demonstrate against the Berlusconi government's draft law on immigration. Immigrant collectives and the Brescia Social Forum were responsible for organising the march, in which a large presence of immigrants was reported.

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