In line with election campaign declarations, the new Government immediately introduced provisions for the asylum system and immigration flows. There were two acts of the previous Government strictly related to the asylum system. The first one is the so-called “Pacchetto Sicurezza” (Security Package) (October 2018) approved and converted into law after two months of the new executive set up (December 2018). The “Security Package” concerns ‘urgent measures’ on international protection and immigration, as well as on public security, prevention of terrorism and organised crime. The second act is not a law in the strict sense of the word, but a series of ministerial circulars and declarations (i.e. soft laws), that are collectively referred to as the “Closed-ports” policy.
The Government used the change in law as an instrument to achieve a narrowing of asylum spaces. It justified the legitimacy of the norm in various ways when dubs on its constitutionality arose: in the name of security and national interest; in the name of other constitutional provisions (e.g. security of the state); and occasionally, by discursive use of the concept of “right” that goes “beyond the norms themselves” (i.e. it’s right because the Italian people demand it). On a discursive level, the appeal to national security, to The Italians (or The people) are both “political strategies” and “discursive filters”. In Italy, tension had been rising between the two essential features making up the corpus of rules on asylum: respect for human rights on the one hand, and security and flow control policies on the other. These tensions have also resulted in a visible conflict of governance at different geographical scales. Even at a normative level, we are witnessing an evanescence of the human rights discourse, that is also increasingly conveyed through generic quotes. This is taking place alongside a growing factual securitisation.