Sunday, July 27, 2008

Italian officials defend immigration crackdown

ROME - Italy's center-right government defended itself Sunday from criticism of a so-called state of emergency enacted this week to crack down on illegal immigration.

The government extended measures already in place in the southern regions of Puglia, Sicily and Calabria to the whole country Friday. The measures give authorities the ability to more easily overcome bureaucracy, for example, to set up new immigrant detention centers.

Political opponents and human rights groups have criticized the government in recent months, saying some of the measures are xenophobic and anti-immigrant — including plans to fingerprint Roma, or Gypsies