There are numerous issues that are associated with mass migration to Western Europe. Immigration to the region has accelerated in recent years, raising concerns about the sustainability of the existing framework regulating the social phenomenon. Moreover, the high number of unregistered migrants leads to various tensions that influence politics. One of the countries that have welcomed millions of migrants in the last decade in Italy. The combination of economic and political factors, alongside its proximity to North Africa, has turned the country into one of the primary destinations for people desperate to move to Western Europe. A dedicated analysis is needed in order to evaluate the positive and adverse effects of Italy’s current migration regulations.
Economics and Culture
Italy is among the countries that are experiencing significant demographic crises, with an aging population demanding more welfare services and benefits. Low fertility rates have become a severe problem, as numerous small factories and farms that underpin the outstanding economic performance already experience labor shortages. Therefore, the government has implemented various measures that help people from Eastern Europe to work legally and become an integral part of Italian society.
At the same time, a substantial number of migrants are Muslims from Africa. Numerous traditions, work ethics, and business rules prevalent in North Africa have already become essential to Italian culture. Arab dishes have become healthy and nutritious street food options. Music styles, communication patterns, and slang have been integrated into the Italian youth culture. Therefore, modern Italy already features multiple cultural elements from other regions, especially from Arab countries.
Although employees from EU countries may experience high living standards in Italy and enjoy a wide range of social security features, migrants from other regions are deprived of many opportunities for professional growth and integration. According to PBS NewsHour (3:25-3:34), residence permits are tied to work contracts, which often puts migrants in a precarious position. Italy needs to develop a new regulatory body that can address numerous issues associated with migrants in a due manner (Italy: Flawed Migrant Regularization Program). Therefore, universal policies that establish more uniform guidelines for people from Europe, Africa, and Asia should be applied.
One of the most controversial issues that undermine the efficiency of the entire regulatory network established in recent years is the abundance of illegal migrants that continue to move to Italy. In most cases, they try to reach the country in small vessels. According to FRANCE 24 English (0:10-00:20), many migrants cross the Mediterranean on rafts, which is a perilous undertaking. Italian guards rescue a substantial number of these people and provide them with shelter and assistance. Despite all the adverse effects of this immigration method, millions of people leave the North African coast yearly hoping to settle in Europe.
Europe is not homogeneous, with some nations being significantly more prosperous than others. Moreover, the population structure and politics continue to be determining factors for migrants choosing destinations. Traditionally, Germany and Scandinavia have been considered the most attractive places. Millions of migrants and refugees must cross Italy and other countries to reach their final goal. Thus, many people do not treat Italy as their future home. Ferrari (3) claims that rising criminal activity immediately resulted in serious tensions with millions of conservative Italians. Drug trafficking and several other types of illegal activities have already become associated with migrants in Italy.
Italian Society and Immigrant Integration
Italians are religious and conservative, which can become one of the polarizing factors when migrants are allowed to maintain multiple traditions and emphasize them in public places. Nevertheless, emerging evidence suggests that economic factors, such as lack of job opportunities, remain the primary factor that can undermine proper communication between ethnic Italians and migrants. At the same time, Italy does not currently have sophisticated tools that can provide jobs to all migrants and ensure the introduction of non-Western migrants to Italian traditions.
Italians should draw from Germany’s experience if they are determined to ensure that millions of migrants are welcomed in the country. Moreover, they should be encouraged to undergo a mild, rational, and beneficial integration process. Scandinavian nations and Germany can provide efficient ready solutions that ensure both rapid integration and a respectful approach. The only alternative option for Italy is to follow Japan’s example and close the borders to migrants, which will lead to economic stagnation.
The development of corresponding programs should consider targeting different demographic groups separately. While working with migrant children in schools has already proven beneficial and has led to numerous positive outcomes, encouraging adults to participate in multiple joint events with ethnic Italians is also essential. Bonifazi and Paparusso (4) state that integration enables older migrants to stay in the country of residence. Moreover, Cela and di Belgiojoso (3677) state that health issues may motivate older migrants to return to their countries of origin. Thus, if a migrant does not become an essential part of society by the age they retire, the entire integration process is substantially undermined.
Italy has managed to escape severe social and economic problems associated with migrants who stay in the country. The fact that most such migrants already value Italy and do not move further north to more prosperous regions should be considered a crucial advantage. Thus, Italians should jointly develop a highly efficient framework that ensures that people staying in the country are enthusiastic about the typical Italian way of life, the nation’s values, and traditions. Otherwise, the rapidly aging nation can start losing its identity, which will lead to numerous tensions and polarization in society.
Bonifazi, Corrado, and Angela Paparusso. “Remain or Return Home: The Migration Intentions of First‐Generation Migrants in Italy.” Population, Space and Place, vol. 25, no. 2, 2019, Web.
Cela, Eralba, and Elisa Barbiano di Belgiojoso. “Ageing in a Foreign Country: Determinants of Self-Rated Health Among Older Migrants in Italy.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 47, no. 15, 2021, pp. 3677–3699, Web.
“The Challenges of Integration for Unaccompanied Migrants in Italy.” YouTube, uploaded by FRANCE 24 English, Web.
Ferrari, Glauco. “Immigrants in Italy.” Life in Italy, 2017, Web.
“Inside African Migrants’ Fight Against ‘Slave-Like’ Conditions in Italy.” YouTube, uploaded by PBS NewsHour, Web.
“Italy: Flawed Migrant Regularization Program.” Human Rights Watch, 2020, Web.