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.
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