Rome Overwhelmed by Immigration: Mayor Calls for Halt to Migrants

The mayor of Rome has called for a halt to migrants arriving in the city, referring to the social tensions caused by the massive immigration.

“Rome is exposed to strong migratory pressure — we can’t go on like this” Virginia Raggi, a prominent member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, explains in a Facebook post. “We cannot allow the creation of further social tension. This is why I believe it is impossible as well as risky to think of creating other reception centres”.

The request was made public on Tuesday June 13th, two days after Five Star suffered a series of setbacks in municipal elections. Mayor Virginia Raggi sent a letter to Italy’s government, saying it was time to “listen to Roman citizens” and stop sending migrants to the capital.

With this decision, the conflict between Five Star Movement and Italy’s centre-left government builds. Five Star had typically avoided taking a strong position on immigration. But this decision shifts Five Star Movement towards a more openly hostile position on immigration and closer to the far-right Northern League, known to be anti-immigrant.

Rome currently hosts about 8,000 migrants and according to a 2014 agreement with Italy’s government, Rome is obligated to welcome a further 2,000. The government has not responded to Ms Raggi’s letter. But La Repubblica, the Italian daily, has written that the interior ministry was inclined to reject Rome’s request.

Italy continues to deal with the arrival on its southern part by large numbers of migrants coming mainly from Africa, south Asia and the Middle East. More than 65,000 migrants have been registered this year after being rescued from the Mediterranean Sea, 19 per cent more than the number arriving during the same period in 2016.

If Raggi’s request is accepted, other cities will need to take in a larger number of immigrants but that is unlikely to happen. What is likely is that the Five Star Movement’s more openly hostile position toward immigration will bring them more votes in the next elections.

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