ITALY - Main features of Italian immigration flows by Giovanna Zincone ♦ A latecomer. Immigration flows started after the 1974 oil shock when Britain, Germany and especially neighbouring France closed their borders. Flows were then partially diverted towards southern Europe. The 1981 census revealed an unexpectedly ‘high’ number of foreign residents (210,937) and presence of foreigners (109,841), mainly of Italian origin. The first big influx dates from later, between 1984 and 1989, when some 700-800,000 people entered the territory. Of these, 300-350,000 entered or overstayed without a regular residence permit. ♦ Large volumes and rapid flows . During the 1980s, Italy and Germany led with the largest inflows of immigrants to Europe. Between 1992-2000, the median inflow was 11.4%. After Germany (204,800) and Britain (161,500), Italy (101,200) showed the highest increase in its foreign resident population in 1999 (EUROSTAT), see Table 1: Foreign residents in Italy from 1985 to 2000. ♦ High share of illegal immigrants. Italy attracts illegal immigration more than other countries due to the importance of its informal economy, which enables a flexible expansion of private care and domestic services as well as a proliferation of small enterprises where unregistered labour can more easily be hidden. Limited legal flows (some 20,000-30,000 people per year) were established to regularise the status of persons already illegally resident in Italy. This in turn made the ‘back door’ of illegal entry the only viable one. B etween 1986 and 1998, the Italian government introduced four amnesties for a total of nearly 700,000 people. Regular residents in Italy, who originally came from emigration countries, now total 1,112,173 (as at 31 December 2000). This figure includes family reunions, which means that the large majority of the first migrant members of the family had the status of illegal resident. Repeated amnesties did not solve the problem and instead tended more to attract new illegal migration than to drain the basin of illegality. Ongoing pressures on the present government by voluntary associations for a new amnesty underscore the persisting presence of a large quota of illegal immigrants. As already argued by the employers concerned, recent government proposals on ways to bring the hidden economy out into the open will run up against obstacles posed by the large presence of unregistered workers who are also illegal immigrants. ♦ The high presence of non-EU foreigners in prisons. The ratio between the percentage of documented foreigners resident in the country and the percentage of aliens in prison is 14.2 in Italy, which scores ‘worse’ only than Greece (17.3) and Spain (25.4). This imbalance has been explained in many ways. Foreigners find more difficulty in making use of house arrest and probation; they are also more easily detected due to somatic differences. The problem is minimised by the fact that imprisoned aliens are usually convicted of crimes related to drug dealing and prostitution. The data is still hard to explain (see Table 2: Foreign non-EU residents – Foreign non-EU in prison ratio in Europe). ♦ Scattered nationalities, fragmented religions. There are no prevailing nationalities. The first nationality, namely Moroccan, accounts for only 11.7% of the foreign population in Italy, followed by Albanian 9.2%, Filipino 4.9%, Yugoslavian 4.4%, Romanian 4.1%, American and Chinese 3.8%, Tunisian 3.5%, Senegalese 3% and German 2.8%. (See Table 3: Foreign Residents by Main Nationalities. Neither is there a prevailing religion (see Table 4: Foreign Residents by Main Religion). Table 4 improperly assumes that the religion prevailing in the country of origin is also the religion of individual immigrants. Nonetheless, this can be taken as a rough indicator of religious affiliation, even if it may underestimate secularised attitudes. Outline of immigration and integration policies, including the ongoing reform process. The bulk of legislation that governs immigration and integration matters in Italy is included in Single Act No. 286 of 25 July 1998, which is mainly based on Law No. 40 of 6 March 1998, which was named “Turco-Napolitano” by the then ministers for social affairs and the interior. The Single Act and other laws that centre left governments planned (but failed) t pass o sought to benefit from the shortcomings of other models of integration adopted in European countries that had already experienced immigration processes of their own. The Single Act and other bills aimed to embody what we could define as a “reasonabl or a pragmatic one. The model singled out two main goals of integration policies: 1) low conflict interaction between nationals and immigrant minorities; 2) respect of immigrants’ personal integrity. Each of the two main political goals to be achieved can in turn be divided into two sub-goals. Low conflict through: 1) safety and security measures meant to reassure Italian citizens; 2) pluralism and communication measures meant to produce mutual respect and understanding. Integrity through 3) full rights for legal immigrants and 4) basic rights for illegal immigrants. q Safety and security measures offered more chances of legal entry The Single Act introduced for the first time in Italy the possibility of detaining undocumented immigrants in special centres of temporary custody for a maximum of 30 days in order to identify them, find out if they have a right to asylum status and deport them if need be (art. 12). Foreigners can be expelled for public security reasons (art. 14). If they have committed a crime, expulsion can be undertaken as an alternative to punishment (art. 15) or after completing it (art. 16), depending on the gravity of the crime. Smuggling is severely punished with imprisonment up to 12 years (art. 12); trafficking for exploitation or prostitution of minors is punished with imprisonment of up to 15 years (art. 12). People who employ undocumented immigrants are punished with imprisonment up to one year and 3,000 euro. This set of measures was reinforced by many bilateral re-entry agreements signed by Italy with emigration and transit countries and by police co-operation agreements with Germany and France. These repressive measures were combined with the opening of the ‘main door’ of legal entry to some 58,000 people in 1998 and 1999, 63,000 in 2000 and 83,000 in 2001. The timing of the decrees never came at the right moment, i.e. by the end of the previous year. In 2000 and 2001 at least, such measures were approved in the first half of the year. First, the Single Act tried to made legal entry viable through increasingly generous flow decrees (see safety and security) and by promoting efforts to match labour demand and supply. The Single Act introduced the institution of the job-seeker visa (art. 23), i.e. provides for allocating an annual quota of resident permits to people in search of a job. Such workers can enter the country sponsored by private individuals, regions, municipalities and associations listed in a register. They have to deposit a guarantee, demonstrate sufficient income, be prepared to offer decent accommodation and pay contributions for public health insurance. The other two main reasons for legal entry are employment and family reunion, both conditioned to the requirement of proper accommodation, the second also to the condition of a minimum stable income. Workers interested in immigrating to Italy must register on lists at Italian consulates, and employers must apply to labour offices to hire people from these lists. Some countries that have signed re-entry agreements (such as Morocco, Tunisia and Albania) have the right to reserve quotas. q Pluralism and communication measures The Single Act respects cultural diversity, foresees the use of cultural mediators (art. 38, 42), funds the promotion of multicultural programmes (art. 38, 42) and supports the learning of the language of the country of origin (art. 38, 42). It also promotes communication by providing special support for learning the vehicular language, i.e. Italian, in schools and in special classes for adult migrants (art. 38, 39, 40). This goal of pluralism would have been served by passing the “Religious Liberty Bill”, which would have given more liberties and benefits to religious minorities in Italy, thus enabling the Government to circumvent the difficulty of signing conventions with Islamic associations too divided among themselves and often too much under the control of foreign countries. q Full rights for documented immigrants Documented immigrants are treated like Italian citizens as far as civil rights are concerned (art. 2) and also for the large majority of social rights, for instance public and private job placement (art. 19), pensions (art. 20), public health (art. 32) as well as council housing and subsidised housing (art. 38). Documented immigrants are entitled to an unrestricted residence permit after five years. Family reunion is immediately possible for holders of at least a one-year renewable visa, and they have the right to work immediately. After five years of documented residence, immigrants can be granted a permanent residence card. The proposal of extending local voting rights to unrestricted permit holders, as contained in the draft law, was later withdrawn, since the legal office of the Chamber of Deputies decided that it was unconstitutional. A proposal to revise the Constitution (Chamber Act 4167) was put forward, then set aside. The same happened to the project for reforming the Italian Nationality Law No. 91 of 1992. This law had reinforced the jus sanguinis principle, foreseeing three years of residence for aliens of Italian origin (four for aliens from EU countries) and 10 years for aliens originating from non-EU countries. By contrast, the previous 1912 Law did not make any distinctions and foresaw five years for all foreigners. Under the same Law, nearly 150,000 aliens of Italian origin (one grandparent was sufficient) who had lost their Italian nationality by adopting a foreign one, could reacquire their former nationality. A subsequent provision (Constitutional Law of January 2000, No. 1, modifying art. 48 of the Constitution) gave to those and other Italian citizens living abroad the right to vote for their own representative (to the Chamber of Deputies and to the Senate). The number of Italian citizens abroad a mounts to 2,748,321 (according to the Census of Italians Abroad conducted by the Ministry of the Interior), or 3,840,281 (according to the consulates’ census). After the Single Act, due to a misinterpretation of a growing cultural rejection of immigration among the Italian public as demonstrated by opinion polls, some limitation of social rights was introduced. A circular specified that access to social assistance was barred to immigrants. The Maternity Law of 8 March 2000 limited the award of special maternity allowances for single mothers and allowances for the third child to holders of a permanent visa. Surveys show that Italians do not want more immigrants, but also that they are prepared to give rights (for instance local voting rights and easy access to naturalisation) to those already resident in Italy. q Basic rights for undocumented immigrants Undocumented immigrants are entitled to all “essential health services and treatments even if long-term”(art. 35), not just to treatments for emergencies, pregnancies and children. Undocumented immigrants are given a special anonymous public health card, they are asked to pay the normal contribution or to declare they are unable to pay it. Public education for undocumented minors is not only free, but compulsory (art. 38). Undocumented immigrants also have the right to legal aid (art. 3). Victims of human trafficking, forced prostitutes in particular, are allowed to receive a special residence permit for reasons of social protection (art. 20). Italian policy makers consider asylum and immigration distinct matters to be kept separate and governed separately. Asylum is still regulated by art. 1, Law No. 39 of 28 February 1989. The Law repealed the Italian ratification clause of the Geneva Convention that had previously limited the status of refugee in Italy to people coming from authoritarian European countries. The Dublin Convention of 1990 (ratified by Italy in 1992 but in force since 1997) introduced the principle of refusing applications from people who already have been granted refugee status by other states considered to be “safe countries”. According to the Single Act of 1988, refugees can receive special work permits. A more liberal bill was passed by the Senate (5 November 1998), but has yet to pass the Chamber of Deputies. This would be the first Single Act on asylum in Italy. In recent years, Italy has granted residence permits for humanitarian reasons to people coming from Somalia, Yugoslavia and Albania. Important functions such as collective sponsorship, rehabilitation programmes for prostitutes, temporary housing and other lodging) are devolved to voluntary associations. This approach could be defined as indirect integration since it involves organisations, more than individuals, but the associations involved are predominantly religious and comprised of Italian citizens. Key points of the Berlusconi Government’s provisional reform proposals. Ø Safety and security measures combined with fewer chances of legal entry Less flexible legal entry: residence permits for work reasons are made dependent on a combined employment and residence contract. The residence permit cannot last longer than the contract and no more than nine months for seasonal workers, no more than one year for temporary workers and no more than two years for non-temporary workers (art. 5). The institution of job-seeker visas was repealed. More severe measures were introduced for undocumented migrants, who can be kept in detention centres for 60 days (instead of 30). If they are not identified they are set free, but ordered to leave the country. If they are identified they have to be deported immediately by the police, according to the present legislation. Immediate deportation must be decided by the courts. If undocumented immigrants are found a second time residing illegally in Italy, they can be imprisoned for six months to one year. If they are found living illegally in Italy for the third time, the punishment is between one and four years in prison. Persistent offenders of the Italian immigration law are submitted to compulsory immediate arrest and summary trial. Ø Pluralism and communication Nothing relevant Ø Slightly fewer rights for documented immigrants Reduction of rights: The years of documented residence needed to receive an unrestricted (or permanent) residence permit has increased from five to six. A centralised office for immigration has been introduced in many districts within the prefectures. This office seeks to match supply of and demand for immigrant labour, having previously determined the lack of national or EU workers available for the same job (art. 21). Dependent parents are allowed to enter under the family reunion provision, only if they can prove that no other child can provide for them in their native country (art. 29); handicapped siblings and third degree relatives are no longer entitled to legal entry. Incentives to job training: in the countries of origin (art. 23), trained workers have priority in receiving work permits in Italy. Ø Basic rights for undocumented immigrants Nothing relevant Under the pressure of Centre Right regional governments the last Council of Ministers introduced some further changes in order to assign a wider role to regions in a) determining annual quotas b) organising training programs in the emigration countries c) evaluating the outcomes of the law. A few suggestions on coping with illegal immigration. ü At the level of public discourse and rhetoric - Avoid confusion between illegal immigrant and deviant and criminal elements. The large majority of criminal immigrants are also illegal but the opposite is not true. The large majority of undocumented immigrants are honest workers who are often exploited. They contribute to the economic growth of our countries and to the welfare of many families. Avoid confusion between asylum seekers, refugees and illegal immigrants. ü Direct repressive measures – European countries must pursue a strategy of 1) co- operation in combating smuggling and trafficking and setting up a European border police, following the proposal of the Italian Government which has been tasked by the European Commission to prepare a feasibility report; 2) common re-entry agreements with emigration and transit countries, some of which have already been prepared. It is extremely difficult to deport illegal immigrants without the agreement of the countries from which they entered, and it is important that the EU be able to act from a position of common strength. ü Direct facilitating measures – Open the main door of legal entry. Start to harmonise not only the admittance criteria, but also general policies of entry. ü Indirect measures – Combat the informal economy and create incentives to come out into the open. Work to improve the legality and effectiveness of the control process. It is crucial to give up the habit of treating immigration as an isolated issue. ITALY - Tables Appendix Tab. 1 : Foreign residents, 1986-2000 (31 December) Year Foreign residents 1986 327,037 1989 433,618 1990 533,450 1991 533,450 1992 537,062 1993 629,165 1994 685,469 1995 737,793 1996 884,555 1997 991,678 1998 1,116,394 1999 1,270,553 2000 1,464,589 Source: Natale Strozza (1997) and Istat (different years). As of 1992, data were collected using a different method. Tab. 2 : Foreign population in the penal institutions of Europe Number1 %2 %3 Ratio4 Austria 1 960 28.2 9.0/7.6 3.7 Belgium 3 005 36.3 9.0/3.5 10.3 Finland 122 4.7 1.4/1.1 4.2 France 13 843 25.8 7.0/4.3 6 Germany 26 778 34.1 8.9/6.5 5.2 Greece 3 221 45.2 2.9/2.6 17.3 Hungary 641 4.5 Ireland 199 7.5 3.2/0.9 8.3 Italy 11 861 24.2 2.0/1.7 14.2 Holland 3 625 32.7 4.4/3.1 10.5 Norway 315 12.5 Portugal 1 560 10.7 1.7/1.4 7.6 Slovenia 125 15.8 Spain 7 958 17.8 1.3/0.7 25.4 Sweden 1 090 26.6 6.0/4.3 6.1 Switzerland 3 704 61.3 Yugoslavia and 67 6.0 Macedonia Turkey 867 1.3 United Kingdom 3.4/2.0 England and Wales 5 133 7.8 Northern Ireland 29 1.9 Scotland 73 1.2 European Union 5.1/3.6 Source: D. Melossi (ed.), Multiculturalismo e sicurezza in Emilia-Romagna: seconda parte, Quaderni di Città sicure, 2000 (Anno 6), n°21/1, Regione Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, p.21) 1 Number of foreign prisoners (data from the Council of Europe, SPACE 98.3) as of 1.9.1998. 2 Percentage of foreign prisoners in the total number of prisoners (data from the Council of Europe, SPACE 98.3) as of 1.9.1998. 3 Percentage of foreigners from non-EU countries in the resident population (Melossi from CARITAS data 1999:62) as of 31.12.1996. 4 Ratio between the percentage of foreign prisoners and the percentage of foreigners from non-EU countries. Tab. 3 : Residence permits issued, by country of origin and sex as at 1 January 2000. First 20 countries. Percentages. Country Total Men Women Morocco 11.6 15.4 7.1 Albania 9.9 12.0 7.4 Philippines 5.0 3.1 7.3 Romania 4.6 4.3 4.9 China 4.2 4.2 4.2 United States 3.6 2.2 5.2 Tunisia 3.5 5.0 1.7 Yugoslavia (a) 3.1 3.3 2.8 Senegal 3.1 5.2 0.5 Germany 2.6 2.0 3.4 Egypt 2.5 3.8 1.0 Sri Lanka 2.4 2.5 2.2 Poland 2.2 1.2 3.4 Peru 2.2 1.3 3.3 India 2.1 2.4 1.7 France 1.9 1.4 2.5 United Kingdom 1.7 1.4 2.2 Nigeria 1.5 1.2 1.9 Ghana 1.5 1.8 1.1 Macedonia 1.5 1.9 0.9 Bangladesh 1.4 2.2 0.4 Other countries 28.0 22.4 34.7 Total (a.v.) 1,340,655 732,669 607,986 Source: Istat, 2001. N. B. : (a) the aggregate still includes a certain, non-quantifiable share of individuals from other states of the former Yugoslavia. Tab. 4 : Religious groups among foreign immigrants in Italy (31 December 1999) End of 1998 End of 1999 % % Catholics 29.0 363,000 27.4 407,000 Other Christian churches 21.9 274,000 22.1 328,000 Muslim 34.9 436,000 36.5 544,000 Jewish 0.3 4,000 0.3 5,000 Oriental religions 6.6 83,000 6.5 96,000 Traditional religions 1.4 18,000 1.4 22,000 Total 5.9 72,000 5.9 88,000 100.0 1,250,000 100.0 1,490,000 Source: Caritas, 2001 N. B.: The Caritas report estimates the number of documented foreigners in Italy as at 31 December 1999, by taking the number of residence permits registered by the Home Office (a total of 1,252,000) and adding 19%. This increase was made to take account of minors and people with a residence permit currently being processed.
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