After actor Richard Gere -- who has a net worth of $120 million -- demanded that Italy take in 160 migrants from Africa who were on a charity boat in the Mediterranean, Italy's deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, said Gere should take the migrants "back to Hollywood on his private plane" since he is so concerned about them.
"Given this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him," said Salvini on Saturday. "He can take all the people aboard back to Hollywood, on his private plane, and support them in his villas. Thank you, Richard!"
The 160 migrants are on a Spanish NGO ship run by activists, Proactiva Open Arms, who rescue immigrants on boats in the Mediterranean and take them to Europe. Some of the migrants are fleeing persecution and war in Africa and other countries and some are seeking a better life in Europe.
Italy, already overwhelmed with migrants, has banned NGO boat-landings of immigrants to its shores. Salvini has said the Spanish-owned ship should should dock in Spain. In addition, the Italian government is considering legislation to fine NGO rescue boats that bring migrants to Italy, reported The Guardian.
Spain refuses to accept the migrants, reported Bloomberg.
Gere, 69, is a long-time liberal activist. He has visited the Open Arms ship and spoken with the migrants onboard.
During a Friday press conference in Sicily, Gere compared Matteo Salvini to President Trump, stating, "We have our problems with refugees coming from Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico.... It's very similar to what you are going through here."
"This has to stop everywhere on this planet now. And it will stop if we say stop," said Gere, as reported by the BBC.
Gere further said, “I already came to Lampedusa [Italy] two or three years ago to visit the migrants' hotspot, so I knew the situation first-hand. They are people who have lived horrible stories, they have suffered a lot, they call them migrants but they are refugees who need help.”