WALKING SHADOWS ON ITALIAN STREETS

Being one of the so-called advanced countries of the world, Italy is a destination for several thousands of migrants who have decided to abandon their homes for better lives abroad.

Nothing good they say, ever come easy. And as for the Italian system with its tight legality and bureaucracy, the dreams of many young migrants have been thwarted with all ease. 

According to a migrant who has been in Italy for some years now, ‘apart from the fact that Italian politicians truly cannot stop immigration, which he called ‘human necessity’, they surely are not trying to do so… The fact is that situation has grown bad and the local people need to be told something. The only worry however is that, though some analysts strongly believe immigrants have contributed immensely to the recent economy growth in Italy, they are still often painted black for nothing more than the mere political gimmicks.

In the summer of 2008, The Berlusconi’s administration sent military to the streets, to arrest what they called the growing micro criminality in Italian cities. That however could have been for the obvious reason. Many people were beginning to lose their jobs due to the several small scale factories, which began to close up their activities in many parts of Italy; a sign perhaps, of the up coming global recession. Yet many Italians were made to believe that the increase in criminality is only due to the large number of immigrants and most especially the irregular migrants who are nothing but walking shadows.

Though they are physically present and many have lived up to ten years in Italy, as far as the law is concerned, they do not exist in the country. The Italian government might have wanted to resolve the situation by introducing the famous ‘Decreto flussi’, few years ago but it was actually a complication rather than resolving the problem, as the illegal migrants have to return home and reenter Italy legally.

To many migrants, this is not more than a temptation. Apart from the financial involvement in the trip, which many cannot afford since they are not allow to work, the probability that they would be able to come back is even more fainting.

While they remain in shadow, the security men are put on the alert for some who are taking advantage of their invisibility to commit crime.  

“If we are the indirect target of the newly built up security system as I sometime fear, why can’t the State integrate us into the Italian controlled data for effective management. After all, you cannot fight the enemies you do not know,” an illegal immigrant said to me on the condition of anonymity.

“No one has doubted whether there are some erroneous migrants in Italy.  And being regular or irregular has very little to do about that. In fact, the Italian justices system should have been able to make the clear demarcation between two categories of migrants, so as not to punish those who have no criminal intention against the Italian society or its people.” He added.

Asking an immigrant how he feels about the negative conducts of some fellow migrants, he was straightforward:

“Italians might be angry seeing immigrants with criminal activities in their country, but the truth is that some immigrants are even angrier, because it’s their name that is soiled with the negative behaviors. For that same reason, immigration should been treated without acrimonies or prejudgment against migrants”.

Mr. Flavio Tosi is the mayor of Verona, a city where the Northern League, known for their anti-immigrant policies is extremely popular. Some of his critics say he is far from being kind with the immigrants, especially the illegal migrants. He was recently honored as one of the best mayors in Italy. Some may have been disappointed with that.

But, could the immigrants simply be the saints?
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One car park in Golosine, Verona used to be a relaxation center for the locals until last year. In the words of a Nigerian man within the neighborhood, a group of migrants, predominantly Nigerians and Ghanaians, truly messed up the place.

“I feel I could sometime shout at someone…,” he remarked. It wasn’t long before the no-nonsense mayor reacted to the excesses.

He not only drove away the boys who made the place a center for junks and haven for their crimes. Instead, he eventually turned the onetime place of relaxation into a car park and mounted several cameras to monitor any abuse of the place.

This to some migrants might have constituted a sign of hatred against them; whereas, a better understanding of the situation could have resulted to a different judgment.

However, the overall consequence is not hard to imagine.

As Mambulu Ekutsu, an African student in Verona University put it: “It’s quite unfortunate that in this part of the world, immigration is sometime misunderstood. Immigrants are considered as problems instead of being resources”.

It’s therefore not surprising that the wrong doings of few usually serve as condemnation for all other migrants, especially the irregular migrants who are merely walking shadows.

They surely cannot defend themselves. Therefore whichever color they are painted with, sticks to them.

Ewanfoh Obehi Peter

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