Italy has a complicated relationship with immigration. The Italian public and politicians alike begrudgingly accept the economic benefits of immigration, but not always its social benefits. The Italian state encounters several constraints that limit its ability to control unwanted immigration, including its loss of sovereignty over immigration policy due to integration at the European Union level. Italy is relatively effective at controlling its borders, but it is almost helpless to control irregular immigration that results from people who overstay visas issued by other European Union member states. Other constraints, like domestic politics, special interests, and dependence on the economic contribution of immigrants, mean that it is unlikely to implement controls that correspond with public opinion of immigration. Since the Italian state's ability to control unwanted migration has been weakened, politicians at times use symbolic politics and rhetoric to appear tough on immigration without offering much in the way of substantive contributions.
At the same time, the Italian public has grown increasingly hostile to immigration over the last twenty years. Immigration is now seen as a threat. Strong, localized identities, inflexible attitudes towards outsiders, and firmly rooted cultural traditions prove to be challenges for foreigners living in Italy, particularly in the North. Additionally, the combination of the historical legacy of North-South integration within Italy, as well as identity politics, creates exclusionary world-views and support for the anti-immigrant discourse.
The divergence between public opinion and the lack of policy effectiveness creates an environment for politicians to exploit the public's fear of immigration. Politicians use mostly symbolic politics that simply add to the anti-immigrant discourse side of the gap, but do little to address the public's concern over the rapidly rising immigrant population. Italy is being forced to confront its problems with diversity through the process of European integration, but Italy still has trouble discussing the issue of Italian identity from the regional and local perspective. Ultimately, there is no attempt to bridge the divide, which would require confronting Italian identity issues, changing society, and reorganizing the economy.
|Advisor:||Morgan, Kimberly J., Farrell, Henry J.|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||European and Eurasian Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||MAI 50/01M, Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||European Studies, Public policy|
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