ROME, Sept 30 (Reuters) – Italy will step up efforts to fingerprint migrants, even if it means using force, at immigration centres to be run jointly by European officials and local police, according to the official in charge of implementing national immigration policy.
Italian administrator Mario Morcone told Reuters he expects to collect fingerprints from up to 90 per cent of the migrants.
“Certainly there’s going to be a greater determination to get the fingerprints,” Morcone said.
Italy will allow a “proportionate” use of force to obtain fingerprints, which it has not done regularly in the past [as reported previously by Breitbart London], “to the extent that it is compatible with Italian law”.
Of the more than half a million refugees and migrants to arrive in Europe by boat across the Mediterranean this year, 131,000 have come through Italy, making it a frontline state in the continent’s biggest refugee crisis since World War Two. Only Greece has seen more arrivals this year.
In recent years, Italy has failed to identify thousands of migrants who landed on its shores mainly because the refugees themselves refused to be fingerprinted in order to sidestep EU law, which says they must ask for asylum in the country where they enter the bloc.
This has led northern countries to accuse Italy of undermining the Schengen Area, where there is free movement of people between countries, by letting migrants move on unchecked.
The EU agreed to a plan last week aimed in part at helping border countries like Italy and Greece deal with the surge by relocating asylum seekers to non-border countries.
But the plan also foresees setting up “hotspots” in the border countries to screen migrants more carefully. Italy has agreed to open six, and the European Commission said Greece will model its own hotspot network on Italy.
Morcone offered a first glimpse of how, starting in November, the hotspots in Italy will work, saying that whoever does not agree to give their fingerprints, or who does not intend to seek asylum, will be sent to a detention centre to be deported.
Read more of Steve Scherer’s piece here.