Analysis. Barely disguised neo-racism, clearly inspired by the security decree, is lurking behind the Italian government’s budget law. ‘The 5 Stars are now willing to support any clearly discriminatory action, becoming blatant accomplices in the racist drift,’ a Democratic MP said.

Lega redefines the Italian family and rejects funding for femicide victims

Even more measures are being aimed at punishing non-EU citizens who reside in Italy, in addition to the 1.5 percent tax on sums sent abroad contained in the tax decree (which aims to bring in an estimated €60 million). The Budget Committee of the Chamber of Deputies has approved an amendment to the budget law that would bar those not born in EU countries from being beneficiaries of the “family card,” a measure introduced in the 2016 Stability Law which provides access to some discounts on goods and services (offered by private companies which choose to participate), as well as reductions in transport costs and some fees, for low-income families with at least three children.

The new amendment proposed by the Lega states that this form of aid will only be granted to “families made up of Italian citizens and those belonging to European Union member countries who are legally resident on Italian territory, with at least three dependent children.” This aims to eliminate the current language, which covers “foreigners who are legally resident.” Compared to the current norms, the requirement of having at least three dependent children is maintained, while the age limit is raised from 18 to 26 years. As before, the companies that choose to participate in the initiative will be able to use its logo “for promotional and advertising purposes.” However, according to the new amendment, the ISEE will no longer be entrusted with defining the procedures for issuing the card, which will be set by a decree of the Prime Minister.

The barely disguised neo-racism behind this amendment, clearly inspired by the security decree, is also lurking behind another amendment proposed for the budget law: from 2019, the regions will be able to spend for other purposes the funds that were previously set aside for ensuring health care for foreigners not registered into the National Health Service, as well as the funds destined for scholarships for medical students, for professional development in the medical field and for intramoenial medical services (private practices at public hospitals). All these resources will be combined in a lump sum given to the National Health Fund, divided among the regions on the basis of standard costs. The Lega thus scores more hits against immigrant families, not sparing even those who are integrated in society, are working and paying their taxes and contributions, and have children born, raised and educated in Italy.

These decisions—if they actually make it into the final budget law, which is still far from being finished—may also affect the rules regarding the poverty aid improperly called a “citizenship income.” For now, it is slated to be available to foreigners who are resident for at least five years. However, the final rules will be adopted by a special measure which will only be passed after the approval of the budget, perhaps between Christmas and New Year’s Day, or even later. “The Lega and the M5S want to discriminate between families. But this is outrageous,” said Democratic Party Senator Edoardo Patriarca. “The 5 Stars are now willing to support any clearly discriminatory action, becoming blatant accomplices in the racist drift,” stressed Elena Carnevali, also from the PD.

Furthermore, the proposal to allocate €10 million to support families who take care of children who lost their mothers to “femicide” has been rejected. Mara Carfagna from Forza Italia, who introduced the amendment, had some harsh words: “They found money for everything: to allow the tourists to shop with €15,000 in cash, to subsidize the price of beer from craft breweries—but they couldn’t find €10 million for the families who are taking care of the thousands of girls and boys who often had to witness the murder of their mother at the hands of their father. It is an ugly move.“

In this surreal atmosphere in which the Parliament is working on a budget law whose macroeconomic figures are not yet settled (the negotiations with the EU are continuing, while Prime Minister Conte keeps his “productive silence”), the version of the budget passed by the Chamber on Thursday included an amendment by the Lega to allow expectant mothers, with the approval of their doctor, to work until the ninth month of pregnancy and postpone the five months of compulsory maternity leave until after birth. Called “agile maternity,” it is an alternative to the “flexible maternity” which divides maternal leave into two months before birth and the three months after (or one month before the birth and four months after).

“This is not how you protect the rights of the mother and the unborn,” says Loredana Taddei, in charge of gender policies at CGIL. “It undermines the freedom of women, especially poor ones, who are most exposed to blackmail by the employer. This norm will be modified when it comes before the Senate.”

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