Monday, November 5, 2007

Needed But Not Wanted

10 million immigrants in Italy within 20-30 years’ time according to a report published by Caritas- Migrantes, if the growth rate maintains the same standards. The number of foreign legal residents on the Italian territory amounts to an overall 3 690 052, with a 6.1 % contribution to the GDP and a total of 1.87 billion of euros of paid taxes; immigrants in Italy are now helping pay the pensions and boosting the welfare system. They certainly are needed.

At a superficial level integration in Italy is not difficult, since according to a research by Makno 85.9% of immigrants are satisfied with their life in Italy and the welcoming they receive. The main reasons of discontent are the difficulties in finding a house and a job, which is why we can speak solely of superficial integration. We may consider it as an extended form of the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) phenomenon, likely to occur in times of radical changes (although NIMBY is generally used for new constructions, see for example the TAR manifestations). We all know it is necessary and that it should be done, only that it would be better if someone else handled the situation. Are immigrants wanted?

Immigration is regarded with circumspection by the natives, fallen under the syndrome of the civilized assaulted by barbarians, to which the media reports add their own mystique of stereotypes such as “the Romanian homicide” or “the Morocco rapist”. A report published by the Italian Ministry of Internal affairs underlines how the percentage of regular immigrants under police report was barely 6%, while irregulars had significantly higher incidences of arrests- even 68% in the case of petty theft- correlated probably with their being irregular and therefore not easily controllable in the first place.

The real numbers do not appear helpful when it comes to media mythology and collective imaginary. The adjectives seem to be too scarce to describe the emotional impact of a crime perpetrated by a foreigner, and a newspaper such as Corriere della Sera proves all too lenient in its abuse of opinionated epithets such as “incredible escalation of crimes perpetrated by immigrants from Romania risks to feed new phenomena of xenophobia against Romanians”. The media as agenda-setters certainly do contribute to the instauration of self-fulfilling prophecies and consequent racist behaviour against entire ethnic groups.

What should be added to the debate issued these days consequent to the attacks from and against Romanians is the respect of the principle of universal legality, according to which everyone should be equal in front of the law irrespective of their provenience. An immigrant must respect the laws of the place he lives in just as much as he must respect those of the home country, and on the other side the welcoming country should enact measures strong enough to act as deterrents to all offenders.

The solution is not simple, as the flow decrees meant to normalize the incoming of new Eastern European workers can generate feelings of “second hand citizenship” from the new enters, eager to affirm their full rights as European citizens also on the extended European job marketplace. The sole certainty that we have is Italy’s transformation from a country of origin to a country of destination for immigration, and that a major consideration and increased participation in public life for its new co-inhabitants can only be welcome.
What's your opinion about immigration in Italy? Is the immediate expulsion law accurate? Will it have any effect? Comment it here.


kRi (blogger) said...

Dear Exodus,
I agree with you when you say immigrants "are needed" although only regular immigrants are needed. That's why I find the "immediate expulsion" principle not an idea but a duty. I don't find a reason for waiting in front of people avoiding italian laws after having entered the country ILLEGALLY. Otherwise the risk would be a running away of the irregular immigrants.
About the partecipation in public life I just think that an immigrant could be ready for partecipation only after a lot of years of day-by-day-regular-legally life in this country. There are already a lot of italian people partecipating in the public life knowing nothing of their native country.
In the end I really agree with you about the "agenda setting role" of media: few serious journalists and media remain today.
Moreover it's so curious: you said that integration in Italy for immigrants is only "superficial" 'cause of the difficulties in finding house&job but this would be the main reason, if you ask, for discontent of italian citizens. It's not an immigrants' problem but an italian problem.

PS I've added your blog link in the "TU e internet" links section of my blog.

exodus said...

Hi, Kri

What I find puzzling about the decree is that it is so overtly targeted against a specific nation, meant to make it an escape goat for internal fears. There is always the need for a foreign menace in order to avoid in-depth search of system fallacies, so I guess that Romanians were now the perfect bad guys.

I don't think that the decree is a good solution , as the EU itself said that it infringes upon the right to free circulation of people. Some other way should be found.

As for what you say about lodging and job finding, it is true only to an extent.
It is an Italian problem, I agree, but it gets much more acute for an immigrant. If you think an Italian has difficulties in finding a job and a house, try searching for them as a citizen of one of the three "non-grata" nationalities: Romanian, Albanian or Maroccan.

The point is, immigrants and foreigners have all the problems an Italian the same age might have, plus the red tape, the constant need to demonstrate a reason for one's existence and the perpetual suspicion.
You may see only one foreigner, I see 60 million.