Europe

Awash in migrants, Italy steps up deportations for relief

FILE: Migrants disembark from Italian Coast Guard patrol vessel Diciotti in the Sicilian harbour of Catania, Italy

FILE: Migrants disembark from Italian Coast Guard patrol vessel Diciotti in the Sicilian harbour of Catania, Italy  (Reuters)

As Italy looks for fresh ways to cope with the hundreds of thousands of migrants bottled up in the country, one solution is rising to the top of the agenda: deportation.

The pressure on Rome to ease its migration problem is growing after the country saw a record 180,000 migrants arrive by boat last year, bringing the total of seaborne arrivals to about half a million since the start of 2014. The revelation that the Tunisian man accused of a deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas market had evaded an Italian expulsion order also has given Italy new impetus to toughen its stance.

In response, the new government of Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is set to unveil plans Wednesday to open 16 new detention centers throughout the country to hold migrants who receive expulsion orders, enabling Rome to raise the number of forced repatriations. They are also ordering police to intensify efforts to find illegal migrants.

Italy also plans to curtail the number of appeals migrants can lodge when their applications are denied and create special sections within the court system to process the appeals more quickly.

“Severe measures in dealing with illegal immigration allow us to be stronger in helping with integration,” said Interior Minister Marco Minniti this month.

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