Italy mulls immigrant amnesty

The new minister in charge of immigration in Italy plans to overhaul tough policies and relax the criteria required for being a legal immigrant.

Paolo Ferrero says he intends to normalise the position of immigrants already in Italy, if they have jobs. Italy has a growing number of illegal immigrant workers arriving in the south of the country from Africa.

Mr Ferrero was appointed by Romano Prodi, whose centre-left coalition came to power after winning April elections.

Italy has had several amnesties for illegal immigrants and on each occasion, the number of residency permits available has been far exceeded by the number of people applying.

Two months ago, more than 500,000 people queued for just 180,000 permits. The numbers applying show there are far more illegal immigrants living in Italy than official statistics suggest.