Andrea Torre and immigration in Italy

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TThe highly anticipated appointment with the «Patronato in Festa», an initiative that every year opens the doors of the Patronato San Vincenzo to students, former students and the entire Bergamo community. The celebrations will begin Friday 22 September at 6pm with the inauguration of the new assembly laboratory of the Il Mosaico Cooperative and will continue immediately afterwards with the speech of Andrea Torre, director since 2003 of the Centro Studi Migrazioni nel Mediterraneo and co-director of «Mondi Migranti», a magazine of studies and research on international migration.

THERE: What is happening these days in Lampedusa? Why are we still talking about an emergency for a phenomenon that has been underway for years?

AT: It’s nothing shocking compared to what has already happened, we will probably get to the numbers for 2016. The place of departure of the boats changes: from Libya to Tunisia. This should make us reflect and understand that we are faced with a structural phenomenon and that perhaps we focus too much on the legislative aspects and neglect the operational ones, which are more complicated and linked to bureaucracy. It is obvious that the situation explodes if 7 thousand people arrive on a small island in one day, but in fact it often happens that in the structure that can accommodate a few hundred there are many more and for months. If migrants have to be transferred to the continent anyway, one wonders why not do it faster. Perhaps there are reasons that escape us.

THERE: The situation seems to show the failure of the agreements made by Italy with Libya and Tunisia.

AT: The deals aren’t working. Italy and the European Union should reflect on the fact that Tunisia was left to drift after 2011 when it managed to create a democracy with a new Constitution. Little support was given to a country that was experiencing an economic crisis, to which Covid then contributed, until the democratic involution of the government. As often happens, blame is placed on an external problem, as happened this year when President Saied spoke of ethnic replacement, which is unrealistic because there are not many immigrants in Tunisia. However, this led to the exit from Tunisia of people from sub-Saharan Africa, in particular from Ivory Coast.

THERE: What should be the role of the EU?

AT: However, we must clarify the fact that it does not do enough and remember that the Member States wanted and decided that immigration policies were a national responsibility. The Dublin Agreement now establishes that the request for protection must be made in the country in which one arrives, but it cannot be forgotten that previously those who arrived in Italy, with the complacency of the Italian State, went to other countries, because the The agreement provided that the application could be submitted three days after arrival in Europe. It would be right for there to be a more shared method, but let’s also say that the governments that have orientations more similar to ours are in fact the first ones who refuse to accept. We add that the data as of 10 September this year show 250 thousand arrivals, of which 200 thousand in Italy. If these numbers were divided among all EU countries, the number would be laughable in terms of impact. Another fact: in Italy there are around 5 million foreigners, another two of foreign origin, but among the prevailing nationalities there are not those of those who arrive with the landings. What we see on TV is only one aspect of the phenomenon.

Andrea Torre

Andrea Torre

THERE: Naval blockade and humanitarian corridors: are they solutions?

AT: The naval blockade is one joke when you don’t know what to say, like the idea of ​​a conspiracy from a foreign country. Cannot comment. Humanitarian corridors, on the other hand, are certainly an interesting experience, but limited to some specific cases of families in which there are children or a sick or disabled person, so it is a model that cannot be used on a large scale.

THERE: The data also says that Europe needs foreign workers.

AT: It is an element of rationality and it must be said that it has always been the centre-right governments that have increased entry quotas for work reasons. The current government will also bring the number of flows to 450 thousand. Entry for work reasons certainly needs to be encouraged and is one of the possible solutions to prevent people from trying to enter the channels of asylum request with reasons that the commissions reject. The more rigid the policies, the more permanent immigration becomes, while flexibility would be necessary to also welcome seasonal workers. Furthermore, for example in the case of Tunisia, which is a small country and has a small emigration potential, the training of those who wish to leave could be promoted to have a more trained workforce.

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THERE: However, arriving regularly in Italy is very difficult.

AT: Yes, due to the very strict regulations. Even those who arrive with a tourist visa and with specific skills cannot obtain a document to work and as illegal immigrants would have to return to their country of origin. In recent years, regular entries have taken place for family reunification. Migration flows are in fact 90% a “disguised” amnesty which allows those who are already in Italy irregularly to obtain a work permit, and who may have lost or not renewed their permit. With the Draghi government the flow quotas were 12 thousand, then increased to 30 thousand, Meloni implemented first at 82 thousand, this year 130 thousand, up to 450 thousand.

THERE: Do these difficulties lead to an increase in unaccompanied minors?

AT: In many cases the presence of the minor is the consequence of the impossibility of entry of the adults; for example, it applies to the Egyptians. People know that there are different protections for minors. There is a family investment that passes from the adult to the eldest child. On the other hand, many young people leave their country where they have no future prospects, in these processes there are also cases of more marked deviance. For local authorities, the management of minors becomes difficult, since the law assigns the task of protection to the mayor, which is very expensive and often not very sustainable. However, the absolute number of cases is not high, but the burden is heavy.

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(ANSA photo)

THERE: How to achieve a good welcome?

AT: This aspect is connected to the inability of the public administration to read and distinguish the quality of the work carried out by those who host. The bureaucracy is often heavy and this meant that, especially in the 2015-2016 period, there was business for entities that were not able to offer a good service. Investing in quality means giving people in the structures tools to become autonomous. The best experiences are those that take place with small numbers and in social and economic contexts where there are opportunities and possibilities to create good relationships with people.

THERE: Sometimes it seems that an economic migrant has fewer rights than those fleeing from war.

AT: There are many forms of protection provided for by the Geneva Convention and it is difficult to catalog people’s motivations, certainly recognition is easier for a Syrian, but it is also true that there are those who leave Syria and those who choose to stay. Migration concerns a phenomenon but also the field of individual choices. And the fact remains that 97% of people in the world decide to stay in their country, in the end only a minority moves.

After Andrea Torre’s speech, «Patronato in Festa» will continue on Saturday afternoon, from 4 pm, with families who will be able to discover and participate in a series of laboratories and, at 5pm, watch the show «I promised a house to everyone», a theatrical reading on Don Bepo Vavassori with music and sounds by Luigi Suardi and performed by Alberto Salviactor, director and author of various theater pedagogy projects and artistic director of the “A levar l’ombra da Terra” festival.

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At 6pm there will be the Eucharistic celebration. The celebration will culminate on Sunday with the presentation at 9.30 of the restoration of the great oil by the Lecce painter Antonio Massaricreated in 1964 for the «Patronato San Vincenzo» of Endine Gaiano and transferred first to Sorisole and finally to the Library room of the Casa del Giovane in Bergamo.

For the occasion, Don Arturo Bellini will inform those present on the situation of the preliminaries of the cause of beatification of Don Bepo Vavassori and will present a report on the theme «Fatherhood of Don Bepo Vavassori». «This painting, restored with great care by Andrea Di Scipio, has also been defined as “Secular Epiphany” – explains Don Bellini – and symbolically represents the Patronage. The focal point of the painting is the figure of Saint Joseph holding the child on his knees, next to him Mary, a group of angels and many young people, one of whom is holding a dove in his hand. The work therefore gives us a sense of adoptive fatherhood which is strongly linked to the figure of Don Bepo, who was truly an adoptive father for many orphans, children and young workers who found in him a figure of reference.”

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(Photo Federico Buscarino)

On Sunday 24 September at 11am there will then be the Eucharistic concelebration in the Church of the Central House presided over by Don Davide Rota. A moment of prayer and reflection that will be enhanced by the presence of many representatives of former students from all the offices of the Patronato. At 12.30 there will then be the grand final lunch upon reservation. On Friday and Saturday evenings, from 7pm, there will be a service refreshment point with traditional dishes, grill and pizzeria. On Saturday and Sunday the party will also be enriched by stands and from the stalls of all the activities of the Patronato. «This initiative – underlines Andrea Giudici, head of the Cooperativa Patronato San Vincenzo – was born as a big party for former students, to offer them a new moment of meeting and sharing within the Patronato. Four years ago we decided to open the doors of this event and present our activities to the entire Bergamo community: a special occasion that we invite you to experience together with nothe”.

For information on the program and for reservations for lunch on Sunday 24 September, you can contact the organizers by telephone on 035/4598130 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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