In an abrupt change of policy late Saturday, the Italian government sent three planeloads of illegal immigrants back to Libya. More returns were expected Sunday. Previously, immigrants arriving from the north African country were received on the island of Lampedusa and taken to refugee camps on the mainland. According to Italian Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu, the new policy is an emergency effort to stop the flood of immigrants seeking refuge.
Opponents call the new policy "collective expulsions which are banned by international treaties to which Italy is a signatory", and question whether returned immigrants had time to submit asylum requests. BBC has more. Read MSNBC's coverage of a proposed EU immigrant control plan here.