Commentary. Beyond Matteo Salvini’s tweets and rants, the actual policies he is pushing reveal that migration management and undermining NGOs is the core business and sole source of electoral support for Lega.

Migration and NGOs: the core business of Lega under Salvini

The approval of the “Security Decree 2” on the first pass through Parliament sheds a disturbing light on the actual policies the Interior Minister is pursuing on migration management: it is now clear that there is no intention to really address the problem, let alone to solve it with a European or international perspective, because at this point the core business of the Lega and practically the sole source of their electoral support has become the management of migrants as a problem reducible to maintaining public order, with consequences in the form of the criminalization of NGOs and of migrants themselves.

The unmistakable intention to avoid solving the root issues, complex but well-known, which lay behind migratory phenomena are apparent in a few key policy positions. First of all, on the global level, we see this in Italy’s withdrawal from the Global Compact for Migration, which was at first approved and then rejected by a Parliament, which was already showing the influence of the Lega’s conception of international relations. Of course, that leaves our country in good company, together with Trump’s US, which, unsurprisingly, is following the same two-pronged approach: walls and internal repression, accompanied by selective cuts in resources for international cooperation for development.

As a counterpart, there is the so-called Mexico City Policy enacted by the Trump administration, which prohibits USAID, the US agency for international cooperation, from giving funding to NGOs that offer abortions or support partner organization that do. This is a clear signal of hostility to the implementation of the Goals for Sustainable Development, among which we also find the respect and support for reproductive and sexual rights. This involves, for instance, early pregnancies, forced marriages and the dangers to the health of girls and women that come from clandestine abortions.

A serious debate on how to counter these policies has been started among the international NGOs protecting the rights of minors and not only these, because the stakes are, on the one hand, the respect for fundamental rights, and, in addition, the independence and consistency of the positions of the NGOs themselves.

In Italy as well, the parallels between the support for “pro-life” movements and anti-migration policies can offer the observer a disturbing perspective. The next step can only be an alliance with other European sovereignists. We know that if the goal is to change the Dublin Regulations, it will be necessary to create a wide network of alliances between the various EU political forces.

Even if for now the Lega only seems to be in contact with forces that are adamantly against revising the Dublin Regulation, we should not dismiss this danger. For this reason, continuing to save lives and to welcome them and denouncing the closure of democratic spaces are indispensable activities, the antibodies we need to preserve the democracy of our country in a European context. Thankfully, all Italian NGOs are clearly aware of this imperative.

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