Populist Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has ordered that benefits for asylum seekers be substantially reduced, saying the money saved will be given to police working overtime shifts instead.
The new policy will greatly reduce the amount of money asylum seekers receive but will also limit access to integration courses for those who have been approved for a residency permit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitungreports.
“More controls and less spending. In the area of immigration, things are finally changing, as promised,” Salvini, who leads the populist League, said.
Currently, migrants receive between 35 to 45 euros per day from Italian taxpayers but Salvini’s new policy will see that amount reduced to around 20 euros per day, with migrants costing taxpayers a total of three billion euros per year.
Salvini also met Rome’s Five Star Movement (M5S) Mayor Virginia Raggi on Wednesday to discuss the issue of illegal Roma squatter camps in the Italian capital pledging to close the camps and return the public space back to the citizens of the city.
Last month, the League leader said he planned a census for Roma people living in Italy so that those without Italian nationality could be counted and deported back to their home countries. “As for the Italian Roma, unfortunately, one has to keep them at home,” he said.
The Interior Minister also mentioned his plans for the money saved by reducing spending for asylum seekers saying: “With the money taken from the centres for migrants I will pay overtime to the police.”
The new policies are just the latest anti-mass migration moves by Salvini who promised to deport up to 500,000 illegal immigrants from Italy during the election campaign earlier this year.
Shortly after taking office, Salvini made good on his promise to ban migrant rescue NGOs from Italian ports forcing vessels like the Aquarius to dock in Spain instead. Since then, Salvini has also threatened to block ships participating in the European Union’s Operation Sophia from bringing migrants to Italy.