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Maurizio Ambrosini, University of Milan, editor of the journal “Mondi migranti” The political regulation of immigration: the issue of irregular migrations.

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Presentation on theme: "Maurizio Ambrosini, University of Milan, editor of the journal “Mondi migranti” The political regulation of immigration: the issue of irregular migrations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Maurizio Ambrosini, University of Milan, editor of the journal “Mondi migranti” The political regulation of immigration: the issue of irregular migrations

2 A recent issue Immigration policies have increased in their importance in the political agenda, in Europe and elsewhere The issue of irregular migrations is quite recent: it has acquired salience only in the ‘70, in relation with the political choice to close the borders against economic immigrants Only in the ‘90 provisions have become more stringent (technologies of identification, exclusion from welfare rights), and after 2001 security goals have been meshed with immigration control

3 The general trend The general trend in Europe and in the Global North is towards more closure: voters seem to demand more restrictions on further admissions of migrants, rights, and tolerance towards diversity New political parties have gained ground, with big success in several countries, emphasizing opposition to immigrants and cultural diversity In US now a debate on regularization of about 11 millions of irregular immigrants is open

4 The puzzle of irregularity It is not clear what is irregular immigration and who is an irregular immigrant Irregularity in the access to a country or in the residence in the country (most of irregular immigrants enter in a regular way, as tourists, students, pilgrims, asylum seekers, sportspersons…) Irregularity in residence, in work, in documentation Difficulty (and costs) in handling the condition of irregular residents, in implementing deportations, in punishing the employers

5 Four visions of irregular migrants The main vision: irregular migrants as vilains (B.Anderson) The opposite vision: irregular migrants as victims An alternative: the heroes of the globalization from below An other vision: undocumented migrants as actors struggling for a better life, embedded in networks, sponsored by native families and solidarity institutions

6 Irregular condition as a passage In the period in the European Union about 5-6 million of migrants (ICMPD 2009) have passed from an irregular status into a regular one. Among 27 EU countries, 22 have adopted some measures of regularization. Southern Europe is at the forefront The enlargement of EU to Eastern Europe has been a non declared measure of regularisation The official policy has hardened, but actual policies are not so rigid: a distance between rhetoric and practice The irregular condition, so becomes a temporary and changeable status for many migrants.

7 The causes of irregular migrations Labour market demands Other vested interests (turism, international trade, cultural exchanges, etc.) Liberal constraint: the “embedded liberalism” and human rights Normative production of illegality (e.g.: family reunions) Migrants agency: the action of the networks Lack of ressources, inefficiency of the repressive system

8 Rethoric and reality of the repression of irregular immigration Italy is the EU country that has granted the highest number of regularizations, through seven amnesties in 25 years, and other forms of hidden regularization in the last decade 1,5 millions of migrants were regularized, and many other migrants have been regularized by the decree-flows. In , against an estimate of about 500,000 undocumented immigrants, expulsions have been less than 14,000, namely less than 3%. Places available in the Identification and Expulsion Centres are around 2,000 in all the country, and the actual rate of inmates’ expulsions in 2010 was bout 40%

9 The Italian case: irregular immigration and invisible welfare In Italy, as in other countries, a huge number of immigrants are employed as domestic workers, baby-sitters or carers of the elderly in Italian families (officially ,000, in reality probably more than one million) The families, as employers, have been the main actors of the regularization process When it comes to women engaged in household chores and care, the unwritten rule is almost that of a generalized tolerance. One could say that they are not politically treated, nor socially perceived as illegal immigrants

10 Ressources for surviving in the home care sector (1) Networks Work The assertion of social utility Involvement in familiar relationships Support from the solidarity institutions

11 Ressources for surviving in the home care sector (2) Access to some public services Lack of effectiveness of the repressive apparatus and expectation to acquire a legal status Love ties and marriage alliances Caring and frontiering Reverse remittances: the support from the left behind families

12 The irregular condition as a pathway - The arrival and inclusion, supported by networks - The phase of survival in the shadow, where central is the relationship with the Italian families their work for, - The emergence stage, during the periodical campaigns of regularization, - the eventual release from live-in jobs and, in case, the reunification of the family

13 The “three hands” of the receiving States: 1) they create the conditions for the demand: subcontracting, flexibilization, reduction of welfare provisions, etc.; 2) they declare to want to stop illegal immigration; 3) they regularize undocumented migrants (specially in the care sector) The irregular condition as a dynamic social construction, where different actors and structural forces are involved. See: M.Ambrosini, Irregular migration and invisible welfare, Palgrave-MacMillan 2013; or: M.Ambrosini, Immigrazione irregolare e welfare invisibile. iI lavoro di cura attraverso le frontiere, Bologna, Il Mulino 2013


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