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Skyrocketing numbers of immigrants are returning home. Migrantes: 200 thousand departures in 2015

Italy is experiencing a reverse trend in terms of foreigners living in the country, mostly due to the crisis. Over 100 thousand Italian citizens have expatriated last year, while 200 thousand migrants, according to the Migrantes Foundation, after having lived in Italy for many years, with children born in Italy, have returned to their home countries or to countries with higher job opportunities. Their stories and experiences

While Europe resembles a fortress besieged by its selfishness, with no intention of saving human lives, no one notices that in Italy a great number of immigrants are returning to their countries of departure or are moving to other European countries because of the crisis. According to Italy’s National Statistics Institute – ISTAT – in 2015, at least 45 thousand foreigners have erased their names from the Italian register. Data released by the Migrantes Foundation, which has the pulse of the situation, signal even higher figures: last year at least 200 thousand immigrants have left Italy. Figures include those who lost their jobs: after one year of unemployment they are no entitled to renew their residence permit; those who left without communicating their change of residence; those expelled from the Country (some 14 thousand last year); voluntary assisted repatriations (339 in 2015, several hundred each year) as well as seasonal workers. Romanians are the most numerous group of migrants who are resettling in their home country, followed by Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Polish, Moroccans. Those from closer countries opt for a part-time or “circular” migration mode, namely three or six months in Moldavia or Tunisia and the rest of the year in Italy. Those with Italian citizenship, many of whose children were born in Italy, are resettling in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Great Britain. They decided to resettle abroad for various reasons, often owing to the shutting down of factories in the north of Italy or owing to difficulties working in Italian families, who save on expenses linked to assistance to their elderly and children.

Those who return … In Montecchio, near Vicenza, eighty Bangladeshi immigrants with their wives and children born in Italy, and enrolled in Italian schools, had been working in leather tanneries and shoe factories. The crisis hit hard and they all decided to resettle en masse to London, where at least is spoken a language they understand. Imelda and Luis, a Peruvian couple that lived in Turin for decades, with two sons born there, have returned to Lima, Peru, last year. Imelda had obtained a degree in nursing but she could not find a job. Luis had opened a grocery store but it did not take off. Petruta, a young, highly educated Romanian, used to work as a domestic worker but she was unsatisfied with the salary and with how she was treated by Italian families, who have tightened the purse strings and in many cases pay off the books. She moved to Switzerland, where she earns at least twice as much.

“Skyrocketing resettlements”. “High numbers resettle abroad – said Msgr. Giancarlo Perego, general director of the Migrantes Foundation. ISTAT figures are underestimated, since many of those leaving Italy for good don’t communicate their change of residence. In all the northern and central regions of Italy the presence of migrants is decreasing. In fact, a reasonable estimate is of at least 200 thousand resettlements in the countries of departure in 2015.” A large majority had been working in factories – notably in the building sector  –, in the field of agriculture and in the tourist sector. “Three thousand construction companies have been shut down in the city of Bergamo alone, most of which had foreign employees.” The director of the Migrantes Foundation underlined the trend reversal underway, which will be confirmed in 2016: “This year, despite the birth of more than 85 thousand foreign children and many family reunifications, immigration growth is projected to be very low, amounting to only a few thousand. In some regions the negative trend is already visible. And for the first time there has been a drop in foreign students, who no longer replace Italians students. ”

“The real problem is that the immigration wave has stopped, and Italy is experiencing a new season of emigration.”

In fact, as many as 100 thousand Italian citizens have resettled abroad, while the presence of asylum-seekers hitting front-page news is only temporary. Of those arrived to date (approximately 350 thousand since 2014), 250 thousand decided to continue their journey to other European countries. Migrant centres currently give hospitality to 104 thousand people, while out of 60 million 656 thousand residents in Italy, foreigners amount to 5.54 million (8.3% of the overall population, ISTAT data)

Those working with foreigners. Laudina Zonca, national councillor of API-Colf, a Christian association of Domestic workers with branches nationwide, confirmed the resettlement trend. “At least 2 thousand people have left Turin to return to their home countries”, he said. Many Romanian, Peruvian, Moldovan, Ecuadorian women return because they cannot to find a job. Italian families do not hire them, or they pay under the table. The situation is serious: we had a 15/20% drop in subscribers, including declines in labour and trade disputes. Our organization is a good gauge, given the constant contacts with the families. The crisis isn’t over yet.” Raffaella Maioni, national coordinator of Acli Colf, registered what she described as “circular” kind of migration, namely, “foreign workers spend a few months in Italy and live in their home Countries the rest of the year. But they are very worried about the current difficulties. Many of them wonder how they will live without an appropriate pension. Living conditions have worsened over the past five years and there is a higher amount of undeclared work.”




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