Over the past eight years, Italy has granted the lowest number of work permits to foreigners in the European Union. This has contributed to an increase in illegal immigration, said representatives from the Foundation Leone Moressa during a recent hearing in the Italian Lower House.
Italy has granted the lowest number of work permits to foreigners in the European Union since 2011, damaging companies that need employees and pushing economic migrants to enter the country illegally as asylum seekers, Enrico Di Pasquale, a member of the Foundation Leone Marassa, told the Lower House's constitutional affairs commission on November 19.
A reported 14,000 work permits were issued in 2018, Di Pasquale said. The foundation, a research center that specializes in the economy of immigration, presented the findings to the House's constitutional affairs commission as part of a debate on a draft reform of the 2002 Bossi-Fini immigration law.
'Current policies have contributed to rise in undocumented migrants'
The Foundation stressed that current policies have contributed to an increase in irregular migrants - from a reported 533,000 in 2018 to 670,000 in 2019 - mainly due to the first migration and security decree - which was signed into law in January this year - featuring measures regarding the granting of residence permits, international protection status and citizenship.
Di Pasquale said that over the past few years the political debate over migrant landings "has monopolized attention," causing the public to "forget that there are over five million foreigners" residing in Italy, or "50 times more than the 100,000 who are staying in hosting facilities." In fact, Di Pasquale noted, the highest number of immigrants residing in Italy mainly hail from Romania (1.2 million), Albania (440,000), Morocco (420,000), China (300,000), Ukraine(240,000), and the Philippines (168,000)," which are not nationalities involved in migration flows across the Mediterranean.
Employers' associations have asked authorities to increase the number of work permits issued, the foundation said. The number of work permits has not increased since 2011, with a record low of 13,877 permits released in 2018, or 0.23 entries per 1,000 residents - the lowest rate in Europe, the foundation added.
A significantly higher number of permits were issued by other EU countries, including Germany (68,342), France (33,808), Spain (58,433), the United Kingdom (108,150) and the Netherlands (20,885), as well as by Visegrad countries championing anti-immigration policies such as Poland (327,605), the Czech Republic (35,529) and Hungary (31,553).
2011: Key year
The Foundation Moressa stressed that a freeze on legal work permits has led to an increase in illegal immigration. "The key year was 2011 when, during the economic crisis, annual quotas established by decree [were] de facto written off," said Di Pasquale. That pushed nearly all immigrants arriving from Africa and Asia to apply for international protection, entering the "hosting system, with all its connected problems."
At the same time, irregular migrant landings increased on Italy's coasts, explained Di Pasquale.The freeze was determined by the "widespread and incorrect" principle according to which foreign workers take jobs away from Italian workers. "This idea is wrong for various reasons", as shown by the fact that a "drastic reduction in Italians who are unemployed has not been registered despite the decrease in economic migrants," concluded the foundation's report.