A Message to Third-Country Nationals: “Do Not Come to Italy”

As European Parliament elections draw near and political candidates go wild online – and on paper – with very direct electoral campaigns.

As I am writing my thesis on immigration, asylum policy and trends in Italy, I could not help sharing this video-campaign with you. Angelo Ciocca presented his candidacy at the EP elections representing the North-East electoral district of the Northern League (a popular far-right Italian political party).

Here below you can find the translation of what the regular immigrants and the candidate say.

“My co-national friends, I’ll tell you with all my heart, don’t come to Italy to starve

My name is Mathew Marattukalam, I was born in Kerala, in the South of India, and I have been living in Italy for 12 years.

This country is going through a severe crisis; things have been getting worse for years and immigrants are affected as well.

Arriving in Italy as clandestine immigrants means dealing with misery and desperation.

Italy, together with Spain and Greece, is the poorest country in Europe.

So, don’t deceive yourself, Italy doesn’t have anything to offer anymore; don’t come here anymore because you will end up starving.

I am addressing all Africans, don’t pay immigrant traffickers because they are murderers.”

For these reasons, I [Angelo Ciocca] have decided to present my candidacy with the Northern league at the EP elections, to obstruct clandestine immigration. Thus, whoever wants to support this anti-clandestine immigration project, should vote Northern League and write ‘Ciocca’.

The campaign reflects the core of the current immigration and asylum policy that dates back to 2002, when the Bossi-Fini law was enacted. It took the name of the first two signatories, the Northern League’s leader and the then-Minister for Institutional Reforms and Devolution, Umberto Bossi, and the then-Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs, Gianfranco Fini, from the right party National Alliance (AN).

The latter were part of Berlusconi’s cabinet (formed mainly by centre-right and far-right parties) and enacted a series of of zero-tolerance rules, providing for the first time clauses to be focused on irregular immigrants (those who arrive legally and then overstay with expired visa). The most important amendments and changes carried out by the Bossi-Fini Law encompassed: immigrant quotas, mandatory employer-immigrant contracts, stricter illegal immigration deportation practices, amnesty for illegal immigrants who have worked and lived in the country for over three months and new provincial immigration offices to help manage immigrant worker and family reunification cases.

Furthermore, the decree-law enacted by the same two politicians and former Ministers in September 2002 distinguished between domestic workers and home-helpers–the most popular cases in Italy are Filipinos and women from Eastern Europe– and dependent workers. Same story here, the rules imposed concerning mandatory contracts and the duration of those contracts make it difficult to find a job for the ones who arrive on the Italian coast without permission. Needless to say that it is quite impossible for a foreigner to have a contract ready at the moment of departure…and as you might guess, the ones who hire these kinds of workers don’t usually know them or even meet them before to draw up a nice contract that would enable the immigrant to pass the borders legally. This goes beyond imagination.

This law triggered a mechanism of irregular immigration rather than regulate the process. Since its enactment, the inflows of third-country nationals has been regulated by a so-called Decreto Flussi, or Immigration Quota Agreement, which establishes every year the maximum number of workers allowed to come in Italy to work – applications arrive from either immigrants living abroad or in Italy legally. The employer must wait for the publication of the Quota Agreement before applying for the authorization to hire the worker. The hiring can only be done once the employer has issued the authorization to work (nulla osta).

Thus, immigrants [should] come to Italy only on request of the future employer, or anyway in order to get a visa, you need to have a contract, a salary and also be able to provide for your own health assistance. In the last few years, the government left aside the quota system and allowed access for immigrants on the basis of ‘family reunion’. If a regular immigrant is in possession of a regular job, a house and a sufficient salary to support his/her family, the family of that person is then allowed to rejoin and all members of the family unit receive a visa to reside in Italy.

The Bossi-Fini law has been revealed to be a legislative [immigration and asylum] system based on economic factors and a repulsion for third-country immigrants without a solid social and economic background. Unless you gain the status of refugee once you go through the whole bureaucratic process, the only option for an immigrant whose asylum application has been rejected, or for an immigrant who does not have a working contract or either loses the job, is deportation. If you don’t depart immediately (you have about 5 days to leave Italian territory) and overstay on the territory, you might get caught and end up in a Centre of Identification and Expulsion (CIE), where you can spend up to 18 months of your life doing absolutely nothing in dire conditions. The remaining options then are two: the immigrant is deported during that frame of time or the immigrant again has five days to leave once he/she is out from the centre. It’s a sort of never-ending vicious cycle.

Asylum seekers who receive the status of refugee go through a different process. They are entitled to attend a six-month program called SPRAR, System for the Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, which helps them integrate in the Italian society and economy. After this period, it’s up to them of course to find a suitable job to earn their leaving, while trying to move on.

The Northern League’s representative Ciocca reflects this system. Why would you come to Italy if you do not have a job already?  While spending all your money on a life-threatening travel that might bring hope to your future, don’t think about coming to Italy, because it appears like we don’t have a place for poor immigrants who won’t find a job and then a burden for our hypocritical society. Many Italians are not interested in integration.


Laura Zuffi


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