Italy’s Trump: Salvini Wants to Build a Wall to Stop Illegal Migration from Balkans

Salvini
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images

Italy’s populist deputy prime minister and minister of the interior Matteo Salvini has proposed a border barrier to halt illegal immigration from the Balkans, similar to the one U.S. President Donald Trump wants along the Mexican-American frontier.

Salvini, whose League (La Lega) turned in one of the best performances of any European political party in the recent European Parliament elections, has proposed the barrier — which may be similar in design to the protective fences built by Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán, which slashed illegal migrant numbers by over 99 per cent — after increased activity on the Balkan migrant route.

“The Balkan route has reopened,” the Italian deputy prime minister said in comments reported by The Times.

“If the migrant flow does not stop we don’t rule out physical barriers on the frontier as an extreme remedy,” he added.

Tens of thousands of illegal migrants have massed in Bosnia, which is outside the European Union, in recent months, although crossing from there into the largely borderless political bloc is not as easy as it was in 2015, when hundreds of thousands marched through Europe to Germany and other prosperous welfare states in the continents north and west.

Deputy Prime Minister Salvini’s proposed wall would run along its border with Slovenia, a fellow EU member-state — but an EU source conceded to The Times that “Being in [the open borders Schengen area] does not preclude infrastructure on the border although the EU would not pay for it, and is not in favour [of it].”

The number of illegal migrants — often of Pakistani origin — who cross through woodlands from into Italy from Slovenia is up significantly, to 780 this year so far from a total of 446 last year.

The numbers pale in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who have crossed to Italy by boat, however, often facilitating by so-called “rescue” ships operated by pro-migration NGOs — which Salvini has also taken a tough line on, declaring Italy’s ports closed to boat migrants and massively reducing the influx by doing so.

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