Italy has a migration problem, just not the one it thinks it does. To illustrate the challenges facing the country, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini continues to point south, at people coming by boat across the Mediterranean. But in reality, in part because of the government’s hard-line approach, the number of people arriving by sea has plummeted, from over 180,000 at its peak in 2016 to a little over 3,000 so far this year.
Instead, the greatest influx of people seeking asylum is now coming from the north — from other European countries, who are sending migrants back to Italy in accordance with the EU’s so-called Dublin regulation. The regulation states that a migrant’s country of arrival is responsible for fingerprinting and registering them, handling their asylum claims, hosting them if they are granted some form of protection and sending them back to their countries of origin if they are not.