Depiction of Refugee Crisis
By working on this project for a substantial part of the year I have learned to examine many different perspectives and take valuable information from all of them, I started work on this topic with a highly skeptical and extremely biased view rooted in my history of living in a small village around people who I love to death but admittedly have a fixed and outdated mindset surrounding progression and politics as a whole. Through working on this my view has changed significantly, even to the point of contradicting myself frequently but I believe this to be the nature of progression just as with the refugee crisis in the coming years, you will doubtlessly notice this in my work.
In Italy, immigration has always been considered a problem and often even advertised as an emergency, most probably to distract from other questionable affairs, but fundamentally at the core of political and public attention the issue of migration is always brought forward for (as far as I can see) no other reason than to draw attention away, kind of like here in America, particularly the arrival of African/Middle eastern migrants at Lampedusa.
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Immigration (not integration) was an important subject of political debate in the 2008 elections. The PD (Democratic Party) based almost its entire campaign on immigration policies which turned out to be terrible both for the immigrants and for nationals, the new government introduced the so called “Security Package”, which were a series of regulations whose aim was to guarantee security for Italian citizens, to fight against migration as a whole and the “crimes and anti-social behaviour of immigrants”.
Five years later, upon re election of the PD the government decided to drop the Security package all together and begin enforcing less strict rules to all migrants. In the 2013 national elections, immigration was discussed in more depth, the PD emphasized the need for a new law and criticized the existing security based frame, but the center right parties continued to emphasize security and the fight against immigrants. Fortunately, immigration was no longer a pressing issue for most campaigning parties aside from the Northern League (who sadly ended up winning this years’ election) and the Popolo della Libert?.
As of 2013 there was no concern for integration policies. So, immigration was usually linked with issues of security, and crime. Integration was always linked to the immigrants abilities to individually participate in the countries’ economy, hence, was never looked at from a larger frame. Only since the start of the refugee crisis has the concept of integration become part of political discourse, with the introduction of the “Patto per l’integrazione” (Integration Agreement) and the “Piano per l’integrazione nella sicurezza” (plan for integration in a safe and secure environment) and the designation of a Minister for Integration, Cécile Kyenge.
Cecile Kyenge has been since criticized from different perspectives for example the system of points that she devised to facilitate integration via immigrants attending civics courses and seminars, which is honestly ridiculous. The right side has also shown backlash towards her because of her African roots which they believe give her bias. I won’t delve into how twisted this opinion is, but you get it.
According to sources such as the Repubblica or the Liberta as well as the simple adoption of a different more positive perspective the effect of the immigrant crisis in the long run might help Italy pull itself out of the depression it has been recovering from for the past decade, although hard to tell at the moment due to the continued instability both among the newly arrived and the current workforce, this heavy influx of young people could be enough to balance the dying infrastructure given a few years (see chart above)
Whether immigration can contribute to the sustainability of the social security system. Theories surrounding this situation are cautiously positive or neutral, but it is clear that Italy cannot rely on immigration to resolve its financial imbalances. That being said the amount of social security contributions paid by immigrant workers is not insignificant. Although immigration is not the only solution for the significant financial problems of the social security system, it is impossible to deny its benefits. According to an estimate by the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore (March 3, 2003), foreign workers pay an average of 2,800 euro per year in social security contributions.
Keep in mind that there were 452,000 immigrant workers registered in 2003, we can estimate that the state received 1.27 billion euro which. If we add the roughly 650,000 legalized immigrants to that amount would be a huge contribution to the italian financial system that is at this point vital to the furthered sustainability of the country. However, we should add that often immigrants work unregistered jobs to avoid these high social security contributions which could through the estimate off substantially.
We also have to keep in mind that this is data from a pre refugee crisis and economic depression era but the fundamental point is still just as valid given a few years for the older population to give way and for the refugees to settle in a more complete way. Jumping forward to today, italy has an immigrant population of 5,047,028 which makes up 8.4% of the countries total population, granted many are not in the workforce they still receive cut social security benefits that they being in italy spend in the italian economy, thus strengthening markets all the way from phones, to public transportation, to food.
People argue (including me in the past) that the immigrants take italian money for no good reason but if anything, these people serve as a dissipation mechanism for the government to strengthen the italian economy and give money to industries that needed it the most, thinking realistically, anybody living in a specific area is going to spend their money where they live on things that are local thus enforcing the local financial system.
I believe the media attempting to market the refugee crisis as dangerous to the italian way of life is nothing more than a cash grab both meant to scare people and increase consumption of media sources that are for the most part still owned by right centered politicians and tycoons such as Silvio Berlusconi.
Sadly many people (including myself) have fallen into this loop of not looking at the bigger picture and getting lost in the linearity of time, all arguments surrounding the situation both pro and con are speculations into the future and if it really does boil down to simply attempting to predict the directions things will go then I would much rather be on the happy positive side than the scared and hate saturated side.
As far as the church goes, the Vatican is making an admirable difference in providing temporary housing as well as food for all migrants, muslim or not. Whether this is also a farce to increase their media representation and foreign influence we have yet to see, but either way a valuable difference is being made as objective and material as it is.
In conclusion, based on my research and current understanding of the situation I would say that things for italy are looking up and that given some time all these drastic, sudden, and different changes are going to lead to a better world with less division and a deeper appreciation of cultural and political intricacies.