Italy's new leaders tell 500,000 immigrants: Pack Your Bags.
The right-wing Lega party, which formed a coalition government with Five-Star Movement (M5S) last week, is the driving force behind anti-immigration rhetoric and it is looking to fulfil a pledge to deport as many as 500,000 illegal migrants.
Lega leader Matteo Salvini — who is now Italy's deputy prime minister and interior minister — reiterated the government's aim to deport illegal migrants on a visit to Sicily last weekend.
On Saturday, speaking at a rally in northern Italy, Salvini had told illegal migrants "get ready to pack your bags."
On Sunday, Salvini said the only way to avoid more deaths was to stop people getting on boats in the first place. He caused a diplomatic row by accusing Tunisia of sending "convicts" over to Italy in migrant boats.
Michael Flynn, executive director of the GDP, told CNBC that the Italian government's proposals to deport around 500,000 people were "ridiculous," costly and impracticable.
Noting that Italy managed to remove, by forced deportations and voluntary returns, nearly 6,000 people in 2016 and 6,500 in 2017, when it had bed space for less than 400 in its immigration detention centers, Flynn said removing more people was unfeasible.
"Imagine the size of the system necessary to detain 500,000 people to facilitate their deportation? It is an absurd sum of money, not even counting the cost of the deportation flights.
"The costs are astronomical because forced returns involve a massive amount of work by law enforcement agencies and resources in terms of compelling people to leave, actually handling people — literally to the plane, on the plane then to the end (of the process)," he said. "If commercial flights are chartered then the numbers returning on these will be small too."
Salvini and his fellow coalition leader, Luigi Di Maio, head of M5S and the new minister for labor and economic development, know this. It's not for nothing that the Lega party campaigned ahead of the March 4 election with the slogan "Prima gli Italiani" — Italians first.
This is just the beginning of a fight. Budget rules and pension reform that the the EU will not like are coming up.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock