A new report on Italian immigration from a leading political think tank has defended efforts by the government to rein in illegal immigration, saying that such measures are “justifiable” from a number of perspectives.
Due to Italy’s prolonged economic stagnation and high unemployment, states the 20-page report from the Machiavelli Center for Political and Strategic Studies, “quantitative limits” on immigration are required to avoid flooding the labor market.
The report, titled “Immigration in Italy in the 21st Century: Economics, Society and Security,” said that a restrictive immigration policy is also justifiable under the aspect of integration: “excessive ethnic and cultural diversity reduces social cohesion and Italy should avoid repeating the experiences of self-segregation observed in other countries.”
Immigration is the top issue facing European Union (EU) nations, according to a YouGov poll conducted last May, and has been among the most important themes in recent national and regional elections. The refusal of certain political parties to seriously address the immigration question has led to their decline and in some cases their virtual extinction.
Citizens’ concerns over mass migration are not without foundation, the report contends, and the negative effects of sustained mass migration over time can be damaging to the economic health of the host country.
Studies have found that it can take between five and ten years before an economic system is able to absorb a single, substantial increase in workers, a normal effect of mass immigration, relates the Machiavelli report. The migratory flows absorbed by western European countries over the last 20-25 years, however, have tended to be not only continuous but growing in size.
“The working class complaint that ‘immigrants steal our work’ may be exaggerated, but it is not groundless,” the report states.
Compared to one current economic theory, which sees immigration as a form of economic enrichment for the host country, the experience of recent decades has indicated certain serious inconsistencies.
In the United States, immigration has had a negative impact on the wages of the native lower classes, while in Europe due to tighter regulations on wages, the impact on wages has been negligible, but negative on overall native employment, the report adds.
In the case of Italy, elevated levels of unemployment, especially among the young, are reflected in increased emigration of highly skilled labor. The net balance of emigration to immigration is particularly negative, the report says, since Italy exports educated youth, while importing foreigners with low skill levels.
In the area of crime and security, data regarding mass migration is similarly discouraging.
In its analysis of crime and immigration in Italy, the report found that over the most recent year for which there are reliable statistics (2015), there were a total of 655,524 criminal complaints against Italians and 302,426 against foreigners, meaning that 31.4 percent of charges were against foreigners.
Since during 2015 only 8.3 percent of the Italian population comprised foreigners residing on Italian soil, there were almost four times as many complaints per capita against foreigners as against Italians
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