In Brief

Italy to grant 600,000 illegal migrants right to stay

Plan prompted by labour shortages amid coronavirus lockdown

More than half a million illegal migrants are to be granted the right to live and work in Italy under government proposals aimed at plugging coronavirus-fuelled labour gaps.

The Times reports that illegal migrants have “proved essential for caring for the elderly” and have “toiled in fields up and down the country during two months of lockdown, ensuring secure food supplies for Italians stuck at home, while risking arrest if caught by police”.

Now, the “disruptions to seasonal flows of workers caused by national lockdown measures” have had the unexpected consequence of bringing migrants “inside the legal economy”, adds Politico.

The Italian authorities are planning to give six-month, renewable work permits to the estimated 600,000 workers employed illegally on farms and in care homes. 

The proposal was put forward by Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova, “a former farmworker who left school for the fields at the age of 14 and became a union leader while still a teenager”, says the news site. 

The Pope appeared to lend his support to the plan yesterday, when he condemned the “harsh exploitation” of migrant farm workers in Italy, adding: “May the crisis give us the opportunity to make the dignity of the person and of work the centre of our concern.”

But far-right politicians claim the Covid-19 crisis is being exploited as an excuse for a migrant amnesty. 

 Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy party, tweeted: “For the Left, any excuse is good enough to aid illegal immigration.”

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