ROME, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The Italian government is working on a plan to cut the number of immigrants, Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi said Thursday.
Sacconi said the government wants to make immigration by the unskilled more difficult while taking a "much more flexible line" with professionals, nurses and other trained health care workers, the news agency ANSA reported.
The topic is a divisive one. While the right-wing Northern League called Wednesday for a two-year moratorium on immigration while Italy pulls itself out of economic slump, President Giorgio Napolitano talked of the "new energies from every part of the world" that immigrants have brought to Italy.
More than 3.4 million people born outside the country are now living in Italy, with half of them new arrivals. Immigrants are also applying for citizenship in larger numbers.
House Speaker Gianfranco Fini said Thursday that Italy should make citizenship easier to attain. Immigrants from outside the European Union must now have 10 years of residency, while citizens of EU countries only need four and political refugees five.