Italy's migrants fear new law deprives them of protections

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Elizabeth, from Nigeria, works at her sewing machine in the "Well(c)home" shelter residence for migrant

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Elizabeth, from Nigeria, works at her sewing machine in the "Well(c)home" shelter residence for migrant

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso smiles during an interview with The Associated Press, in Rome. Thou

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso smiles during an interview with The Associated Press, in Rome. Thou

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso poses during an interview with The Associated Press, in Rome. Thous

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso poses during an interview with The Associated Press, in Rome. Thous

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Emanuela, 21, right and her sister Mercy, 16, both from Nigeria, have lunch in the "Well(c)home" shelte

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Emanuela, 21, right and her sister Mercy, 16, both from Nigeria, have lunch in the "Well(c)home" shelte

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso arrives for an interview with The Associated Press, in Rome. Thousa

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso arrives for an interview with The Associated Press, in Rome. Thousa

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press, in

In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, Barry Tierno, 19, from Burkina Faso poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press, in

Emanuela, 21, right and her sister Mercy, 16, both from Nigeria, watch Tv as they have lunch in the "Well(c)home" shelter residence for migrants where

Emanuela, 21, right and her sister Mercy, 16, both from Nigeria, watch Tv as they have lunch in the "Well(c)home" shelter residence for migrants where

In this photo taken on  Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, a man enters the Political Asylum migration office of an Italian police headquarters in Rome, Friday, De

In this photo taken on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, a man enters the Political Asylum migration office of an Italian police headquarters in Rome, Friday, De

In this photo taken on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, people queue at the political asylum migration office at the Italian police headquarters, in Rome. Thousa

In this photo taken on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, people queue at the political asylum migration office at the Italian police headquarters, in Rome. Thousa

In this photo taken on  Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, people queue at the political asylum migration office at the Italian police headquarters, in Rome. Thous

In this photo taken on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, people queue at the political asylum migration office at the Italian police headquarters, in Rome. Thous

In this photo taken on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, A man collects his papers outside the Political Asylum migration office of an Italian police headquarters

In this photo taken on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, A man collects his papers outside the Political Asylum migration office of an Italian police headquarters

ROME (AP) — Thousands of migrants in Italy are anxiously waiting to see if they will lose their housing and benefits following approval of a government-backed law that aims to reduce the number of migrants granted humanitarian protections.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has denied speculation that he is "about to kick out pregnant women, children and elderly people on Christmas Eve." Rather, he stressed last week, the new law eliminates the category of "humanitarian protection" for migrants going forward, not retroactively.

But aid groups say eventually the law could affect as many as 20,000 people as their humanitarian permits expire. It was passed at the same time that Italy's populist, anti-migrant government announced it wouldn't attend the signing ceremony in Morocco next week of the U.N. Global Compact on migration.