Is this a thinly veiled amnesty for all illegal immigrants in Italy?
Italian Government has decided to grant amnesty to a specific category of illegal immigrants: domestic workers. Theoretically, all other illegal immigrants working in other sectors will not be regularised.
While it is difficult to understand why the Government has decided to regularise only domestic workers, the first good news is that this measure will allow most illegal immigrants in the country to be regularised. This is because domestic work is the sector with the highest number of illegal immigrants. In fact each time the Government publishes the Quota Agreement (Decreto flussi) which is the document indicating the highest number of non-European Union foreigners who can come to work in the country, most quotas are allocated to domestic workers.
The second good news is that there is no limit to the number of illegal domestic workers to be regularised. This is where I’m tempted to think that this measure, which is made to appear as partial amnesty, is actually a thinly veiled amnesty for all illegal immigrants in Italy with jobs.
I’m actually tempted to think that the hidden message behind this is measure is: “Are you an illegal immigrant in Italy with a job? Do you want to be regularised? Find someone ready to declare you are his/her domestic worker and you’ll be regularised.” I may be wrong.
The current centre-right Government has been strongly against any form of amnesty for illegal immigrants. Lega Nord Party, one of the parties forming part of the coalition Government, has been pushing successfully for tough immigration rules. In fact this is one of the reasons why the party insisted on having one of their own, Mr. Roberto Maroni, as the Home Affairs Minister, the ministry in charge of immigration department.
Mr. Maroni and many top Government officials have said uncountable times that there will no amnesty for illegal immigrants. It would therefore be seen as a contradiction for this Government to openly admit that they are granting amnesty to illegal immigrants.
It should, however, not be forgotten that the last time amnesty was granted to illegal immigrants in Italy (in 2002), it was done by a centre-right Government.
Leaving aside anti-immigration slogans, politicians, including those of the Lega Nord are fully aware of the important role immigrants, including the illegals, play in this society. They are also fully aware of the millions of Euros the State loses by denying illegal immigrants a chance of regularising their status.
Financially speaking, the State stands to gain from regularisation of illegal immigrants. Assuming that only 300,000 people will be regularised, the National Social Security Institute (Istituto nazionale per la previdenza sociale, INPS) will earn at least 150 million Euros from this operation. Each month, it will be receiving more than 45 million Euros through social security contributions. The State coffers will also receive about 400 million Euros per year.
Please note that the above figures are only applicable if they’ll regularise only 300,000 illegal immigrants. But I suspect the number will be double if not triple.
Surely the Government had to find a way of solving the problem of illegal immigrants. I said in December 2008 that they would not continue ignoring this problem.
It is in fact a courageous act for this Government to regularise domestic workers. It is understandable if their pride can not allow them to openly say that they are granting amnesty to all illegal immigrants.
But one doesn’t have to be a genius to understand that under this measure, technically speaking, all illegal immigrants with jobs (even those not doing domestic work) can potentially be regularised.
The measure states that only housekeepers and caregivers who by 30th June 2009, had been working for their employer for at least three months can be regularised. The employer will have to declare under his/her responsibility, the date the worker began working for him/her. No special evidence is required to prove this, so the employer’s declaration is sufficient.
Put this way, it means that illegal immigrants who want to be regularised have to find someone ready to hire them as domestic workers. But once regularised, they don’t have to continue working as domestic workers. They can move to other sectors.
Aware of the immense suffering and fear under which illegal immigrants live, and the sacrifices they constantly make to try to legalise their status, I doubt if any illegal immigrant in Italy will let go this opportunity of being regularised simply because he/she is not a domestic worker.
Without doubt many will do everything possible to find someone to declare that they are doing domestic work for them. They may have to opt for a small lie (which is actually an offence), but since this is the only of regularising their status, how many will let it go because they are not domestic workers?
The Government has made it clear that they will regularise all domestic workers who meet the requirements. Since there is no limit on the number of people who can be regularised, it means that if for instance, a million applications are submitted and all of them meet the requirements, they’ll all be regularised.
By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a