The law abolishes humanitarian residence permits granted to vulnerable people, families or single women with children.
The mayors of three large Italian cities are refusing to obey a controversial anti-immigration law penned by far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, slamming it as unconstitutional and violating human rights.
Salvini, also interior minister, on Thursday demanded the resignations of the mayors of Florence, Palermo and Naples, with the last escalating the row by also offering to take in migrants stranded at sea that Italy has turned away.
"This (law) incites criminality, rather than fighting or preventing it," Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando said.
"It violates human rights. There are thousands, tens of thousands of people who legally reside here in Italy, who pay their taxes, who pay into pensions, and in a couple of weeks or months they will become... illegal."
The new racist anti-migrant law, adopted by parliament on November 28, makes it easier to expel new arrivals and limits residence permits. It also abolishes humanitarian residence permits granted to vulnerable people, families or single women with children.
Salvini, head of the far-right League party, was quick to suggest Orlando "take care of the many problems in his city instead." But his rebuke proved counterproductive with other mayors joining the protest.
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella said his city would "not bow to" a law which "expels asylum-seekers and, without repatriating them, throws them out onto the street."
Naples Mayor Luigi de Magistris vowed the parts of the law he said were unconstitutional, "such as those on the right to asylum, will under no circumstances be enforced." He then upped the ante by offering to take in 32 migrants in limbo at sea after being rescued by an NGO but denied a safe port in Europe.
"I hope the boat approaches the port of Naples, because — contrary to what the government says — we will launch a rescue plan and let them dock. I will oversee the rescue operation myself," he told local radio. He accused Salvini of having "a stone instead of a heart."
Orlando said he would seek legal advice on whether the law was unconstitutional.
In October, the mayor of the small Italian town of Riace, Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Lucano, was placed under house arrest in October for allegedly helping immigrants in his city.
Since his election in 2004, Lucano has made international headlines for welcoming thousands of migrants and refugees and creating several social programs to integrate them into society and to revitalize the dwindling rural population of the sparsely-populated Calabrian village. The indicted mayor was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the world’s top 50 leaders in 2016.