France Halts Italy Trains To Block Immigrants
Row heats up in battle of North Africans fleeing unrest
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Apr 18, 2011 1:20 AM CDT
French far-right National Front party demonstrators hold banners anti-immigration banners during protests against the Italian government's immigration policy in Menton, France.   (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The showdown between France and Italy over African immigrants reached a new pitch yesterday when French officials stopped Italian trains at a border crossing. Trains carrying immigrants from North Africa were halted for hours, prompting Italian authorities to file official complaints. Italy has granted temporary resident permits to thousands of Tunisians, allowing them to travel freely throughout many European nations. French authorities are insisting the immigrants must first prove they can support themselves financially before they will be allowed into France, reports the BBC.

But Italian authorities say such restrictions are "illegitimate and in clear violation of European principles" which allow free travel once documentation is granted by one EU member nation. Trains were halted into the French town of Menton where some 300 protesters planned to participate in a rally in support of immigrants. The demonstration didn't take place because demonstrators were stuck on the trains. Earlier this month, Italy and France announced a plan to launch sea and air patrols to prevent an influx of Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans fleeing unrest in their nations.