ROME, June 21 (UPI) -- Immigrants illegally entering Italy should be found guilty of a felony offense and sentenced to prison time, a newly proposed law says.
The legislation before Italian lawmakers would make it a felony to illegally enter Italy, which would represent one of the harshest immigration penalties in all of Europe, The International Herald Tribune reported Saturday.
The legislation being considered by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government could potentially pose a different problem for the country's senior citizens, who rely on immigrants for care.
University of Milan Professor Maurizio Ambrosini said Italian families benefit by having immigrants take care of their elderly.
"Families are both perpetrators and victims" of illegal immigration, the professor of the sociology of immigration said. "They want tough laws on illegal immigration, but they are the reason that many immigrants come to Italy illegally."
The Tribune said due to this potential conflict, Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi has suggested those foreign domestic workers who have already applied for citizenship be granted exemptions under the proposed law.