COMO, ITALY - 21 JUNE 2017: The soccer trophy won by the refugees hosted by priest Giusto della Valle is seen here in the dining room of the center in Como, Italy, on June 21st 2017. Giusto Della Valle is a local priest who since 2011 has run a center on the outskirts of town where more than 50 migrants sleep at night.
Residents of Como are worried that funds redirected to migrants deprived the town’s handicapped of services and complained that any protest prompted accusations of racism.
Throughout Italy, run-off mayoral elections on Sunday will be considered bellwethers for upcoming national elections and immigration has again emerged as a burning issue.
Italy has registered more than 70,000 migrants this year, 27 percent more than it did by this time in 2016, when a record 181,000 migrants arrived. Waves of migrants continue to make the perilous, and often fatal, crossing to southern Italy from Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, seeing Italy as the gateway to Europe.
While migrants spoke of their appreciation of Italy’s humanitarian efforts to save them from the Mediterranean Sea, they also expressed exhaustion with the country’s intricate web of permits and papers and European rules that required them to stay in the country that first documented them.