Conflict & Justice

Italy's anti-immigration backlash

In this tunnel, 20 Roma families take shelter after being driven from a camp of makeshift huts by police. It was the largest Roma camp in Italy and conditions there were terrible. This father says the Roma lost most of their meager belongings in the movement. The father says the Italians are racist and permit their children to live in these deplorable conditions. A half-dozen kids play in the twilight of the tunnel and they climb on street dividers which the Roma say were put up to discourage the Roma from setting up camp here. Activists say authorities want the Roma simply to go away. This politician says these Roma kids had to drop out of school. She ran on the ticket of a far-left coalition that promised to integrate the Roma, and her coalition was obliterated in the elections. By contrast, her far-right opponents had their best showing ever. On the eve of the election, those far-right candidates lashed out at immigrants and the league blames foreigners for much of Italy's crime, and that message resonated with voters. Even those who disagree with that message say the government of Milan must deal with the influx of the Roma. This Father says any solution will take time and political will, and he's been working closely with the Roma to help integrate them. He says the government promised not to evict the Roma until they found a new place for them to win, but then early this year Milan won its bid to host the World Expo in 2015 and within hours bulldozers started to destroy the Roma camp. He says residents of Milan need to get over their fear of the Roma and foreigners and we have to recognize that they are here. There are also thousands here from the Balkans who fled the wars of the 1990s and came to Italy because of its proximity. The Father explains that Italy has no program for integration. The only program has been one to pay the Roma to go home.

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