Albion Monitor /News

Italian City Offers Bounty For Undocumented Immigrants

by Jorge Pina

One of the wealthiest regions in Europe offers reward for turning in Albanians who had come to Italy fleeing civil war
(IPS) ROME -- The town council of Acqui Terme, a small city in northern Italy, has offered a $600 reward to anyone who reports an undocumented Albanian immigrant.

"Citizens capable of identifying clandestine Albanians and providing information that leads to their immediate deportation" will receive one million liras ($600), the town council of Acqui Terme, in the northern region of Alessandria, decided yesterday.

Minister of Social Solidarity Livia Turco of the Democratic Party of the Left, the leading party of the center-left coalition that governs Italy, denounced the new policy as a "witch hunt. "

"There are laws for finding illegal immigrants and people to apply them. These measures are absolutely unacceptable provocations," she said.

The mayor of Acqui Terme, Bernardino Bosio, of the separatist Northern League, was commissioned by the town council to find the money to implement the unprecedented measure, which was condemned by the government.

Since 1993, the city council has been in the hands of the Northern League, a political movement advocating independence for Italy's northern region, "Padania," encompassing Marche, Toscana, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Veneto, Lombardia, Piemonte, Valle D'Aosta, Friuli-Venecia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adigio.

With 31 million inhabitants, slightly over half of Italy's total population of 58 million, it is the country's richest region and one of the wealthiest in Europe.

To find the money for the reward -- which has been termed "bounty" by the town council -- the promoters of the idea have even considered asking "citizens of Padania" for contributions.

On Sept. 2, the Italian government announced that the Albanians who had come to Italy fleeing civil war in their country would be deported. The measure will take immediate effect for those who escaped from centers housing the refugees, and will gradually be implemented up to a Nov. 30 deadline for the rest.

According to a report released by the Interior Ministry, just under 17,000 Albanians had entered Italy by June 30. Close to 6,500 of them have already been deported or voluntarily returned home, and 2,000 have escaped from the centers set up to house them.

The mayor of Acqui Terme defended the "bounty" concept today, arguing that the government would be unable to expel the city's 3,000 undocumented Albanians.

"Some of these Albanians fled from prisons in their country, while others, due to the sub-human conditions in which they are forced to live, are a serious danger to Italian citizens," he said.

He added that the reward would also be paid to those who reported non-Albanian illegal immigrants, as long as they were "extracomunitarios," a term frequently used with derogatory connotations to refer to citizens of non-European Union countries.

During a rest period in northern Italy, Pope John Paul II was once warned that a group of "extracomunitarios" was nearby.

"Don't worry, I am also an 'extracomunitario'," he replied.

A year ago, Mayor Bosio threatened to surround the city with barbed wire if the government sent Albanian refugees there.

A member of the Acqui Terme town council, Francesco Cattafi, of the Unitary Democratic Center (CDU), former Christian Democrats who belong to the center-right opposition coalition, suggested that all undocumented citizens of countries from outside the European Union be denied both work and lodgings.

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Albion Monitor September 15, 1997 (

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