On the 6th July, the Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini issued a circular to regulate the work of the territorial commissions responsible for granting or denying humanitarian permits. According to the circular, the granting of the permit no longer depends on the assessment of the individual case. In fact, it must rely exclusively on the judgment of the objective conditions of the country of origin and on the situation of the applicant in that context. These objective conditions are established on paper, updating the list of safe countries according to the needs of the moment and on the basis of relations with African states. The state of health or pregnancy, underage or tragic personal experience do not count, as well as systematic rapes suffered by women, violence met in Libya, persecution experienced by thousands of men and women in their countries for their political or sexual choices. Considering all of this would have led to the granting of too many permits. So, Salvini said quite clearly to the territorial Commissions that they must make the denial machine more efficient. Thus violence is completely legitimate. On the other side of the border, rape, slavery, torture, brutal forms of detention are considered so normal that they are not sufficiently serious grounds to grant a humanitarian permit. On this side of the border, it is always possible to shoot migrants, women, men and even children, to defend private property.
In many respects, the racism of the Salvini government continues and tightens up the policies already implemented by the Minniti government. In other respects, it makes a radical difference. For long time migrants have been forced to work with a view of obtaining a residence permit. Even in recent months, many municipalities, such as Milan and Bologna, have promoted the “voluntary work” of asylum seekers who live in reception centers as a tool to help obtain the residence permit. It is called “voluntary”, but for migrants it has actually been a duty to comply, within the hope of obtaining permit, so much so that in Zone, a village in the province of Brescia, those who refused to work were driven away. But today, even that does not concern the Italian government, whose purpose is to reject migrants in order to legitimize itself: government racism serves to hide the fact that even white workers will remain precarious, poor and exploited.
Migrant work is of interest also for Salvini and the small industrialists who guaranteed his electoral success. Therefore, the Minister of Illegal Labour stated that humanitarian permit cannot be renewed automatically. For this reason, the Police Headquarters of Bologna (but surely also those of other cities) are checking for the existence of a lease and a work contract, at the time of renewal of the humanitarian permit. Exploitation is still the price to pay, whatever the conditions, for a residence permit that is not guaranteed, but is increasingly an illusion, a privilege for very few. An instrument of subordination and oppression in the hands of a government that – while ensuring the intensification of the exploitation of whom is in Italy, with or without documents – promises to lock up in a detention centre and throw out all those who are poor and no longer needed.
In the last weeks there has been a reaction. The squares of many cities were filled to invoke the opening of the ports, on the border of Ventimiglia thousands of women and men invoked the freedom of movement for migrants. It is necessary to focus on this freedom to fight government racism. This freedom connects closely the migrants who broke through fences of Ceuta to enter Europe and those who demonstrated in Modena on the last 7th July, strongly and firmly refusing the policies of denials, clandestinity, the cage of the reception system and the opening of new detention centres. Migrants are not the only ones who have to travel that road of freedom. The claim for not being imprisoned, not being poor, not being raped is the thrust of a struggle that affects all those who do not accept racism as an illusory compensation for their exploitation and oppression.