Matteo Salvini promises to roll back tough immigration policies ahead of Italy's snap election
Italy's controversial former interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has sought to put immigration front and center ahead of Italy's snap election next month.
He visited Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and claimed that only 15% of incoming migrants qualify as refugees.
He also expressed concern that a migrant reception center in Lampedusa was nearing collapse due to overcrowding, calling it "unworthy of a civilized country".
The center has a capacity of about 350 people, but currently 1500 people stay there.
"Lampedusa is the gateway to Europe, it cannot be Europe's refugee camp," Salvini told reporters after a visit to the island on Thursday.
"Whoever has the right to come to Italy, comes by plane, not by boat risking their lives. Whoever does not have the right, does not come", added the leader of the Lega Nord political party.
Salvini is promising a return to tough immigration policies if the right-wing coalition wins the election.
During Salvini's short but dramatic tenure as interior minister in 2018-19, migrant arrivals in Italy fell sharply after he pursued preventive policies, including long government delays in designating safe ports for rescue ships.