EU asks Italy to stop fingerprinting Gypsies

gypsyfamilyWhen I visited Eastern Europe about a decade ago, I was shocked at how much outspoken prejudice there was against the Gypsies. And I was shocked today to read in the Guardian:

Last week, Silvio Berlusconi’s new rightwing Italian administration announced plans to carry out a national registration of all the country’s estimated 150,000 Gypsies – Roma and Sinti people – whether Italian-born or migrants. Interior minister and leading light of the xenophobic Northern League, Roberto Maroni, insisted that taking fingerprints of all Roma, including children, was needed to “prevent begging” and, if necessary, remove the children from their parents.

The ethnic fingerprinting drive is part of a broader crackdown on Italy’s three-and-a-half million migrants, most of them legal, carried out in an atmosphere of increasingly hysterical rhetoric about crime and security.

The European parliament has asked Italy to stop doing this. Guardian columnist Seamus Milne suggests anti-migrant hysteria in Europe may be at the root of this.  Not that the U.S., or my home state of Arizona, where “crime sweep” publicity stunts target undocumented immigrants and stepped-up enforcement separates kids from parents, is exactly immune from xenophobia.

[image: Zingaro]

5 thoughts on “EU asks Italy to stop fingerprinting Gypsies”

  1. I’ve been on a couple of bus tours of Italy in the last decade. In Rome, we were warned each time to expect purse-snatching attempts by gypsies. Each time it happened to one or more people in the group. The gypsies have no fixed address, so normal “nonviolent” procedures, like the U.S. catch and release, just don’t work. Fingerprinting makes sense, to identify repeat criminals.

  2. If targeting an entire ethnic minority isn’t a human-rights violation, then what is?

  3. >“crime sweep” publicity stunts target undocumented immigrants

    Oh noes! FSM forbid we target criminals. I can’t understand what the big deal is when we arrest people who are here _illegally_.

  4. Docduke: so some members of an already persecuted and marginalised minority have turned to crime, and that justifies treating all of them as criminals based on their perceived ethnicity? Transpose the nationalities; say the London Metropolitan started fingerprinting all US nationals? Liberty is for everyone, or it ain’t liberty.

    anon: criminals in the eyes of the law, sure; and I expect most of them are well aware of it, not to mention the risks they run by become undocumented immigrants – not just from the law, but from some citizens of the countries where they end up. Which makes you wonder just how bad things are back in their home country, that they’re willing to accept a life of the fringe of the law rather than return… and how their home country got that way in the first place. Immigration – in the US, the UK and the EU – is the sound of chickens coming home to roost, an inevitable outcome of the old days of imperialism. If you really want to squash illegal immigration, push for greater enforcement of the minimum wage laws. If there weren’t exploitative employers willing to hire them, they’d soon return home.

  5. anon, in the United States of America, there has to be probable cause before law enforcement stops somebody. You don’t arrest people in the hopes that you’ll find something on their immigration status. A friend of mine who is here legally was stopped because she was, apparently, driving while Mexican. This is not America.

    (It didn’t used to be, anyway, but then again until recently we also expected some brakes on the govt.’s ability to eavesdrop on our phone calls and emails.)

    In addition, most local police forces don’t consider themselves arms of Immigration Control. They have to deal with crimes that are actually violent, for one thing. A lot of people reflexively applaud publicity grabs like Sheriff Arpaio’s, but they don’t stop to count the costs of what does not get done while he’s scoring cheap political points.

    Lots more in the East Valley Tribune for anybody interested.

    Yes, in an ideal world we would have more control over immigration, but “build a wall” or “deport and displace millions” are just stupid. If you’re paranoically inclined (who, me?) you might even think the system is working the way it’s supposed to: An easily intimidated pool of cheap labor is the American way to some people.

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