Should Italians Pay for Global Refugee Policy Failures?

May 19, 2017

According to a BBC News article 170,973 people arrived by sea to Italy in 2016 seeking asylum.  (A protection granted by a nation to someone who has left their country as a political refugee). With these statistics, Italy will soon be depleted of space and money. Some argue that the immigrants need help, but the ones that really need help are the women and children that are left behind in their home country.  According to, a well known European welfare society, eighty-five percent of refugees going to Europe are able-bodied men. Only fifteen percent are women and children.  They can be helped; in their own country there would be more money to help more people, especially women and children.

I interviewed my relatives in Italy for this essay. They are nobody and have no power; they are just poor factory workers like millions of other ordinary Italians but, their opinions matter and are worth listening to. Monia Fortunato, my aunt, age 43 of Vicenza (VI) Italy, feels strongly about the migrants: “I personally am very angry… This is consuming all of our social and welfare programs which now go first to helping refugees, which cost around 40 euro (45 dollars) per day each person. Meanwhile Italians in need of subsidies or help from our government are almost always denied.”

According to Laura Fortunato, my other aunt age 31, San Gottardo (VI) Italy: “It is more difficult to save money for the future because the Italian government has increased taxes and thus increased the cost of living in Italy, definitely a large portion of that goes to help and welcome immigrants who arrive illegally. Food prices increase constantly. In fact, trying to get fresh food rather than processed food is very expensive and has an adverse impact on health.” In other words, refugees have raised the price of living in Italy, making it difficult for Italian citizens to make a living and the statistics back up this claim.  According to TradingEconomics, the cost of food in Italy increased 2.8 percent in March of 2017 over the same month in the previous year.   This is a big increase because food inflation in Italy averaged 1.87 percent from 1997 until 2017.

The Spectator (respected weekly British periodical since 1828) states that 4700 migrants were infested with scabies (a rash caused by a burrowing mite.) One in Four migrants tested were said by doctors to have Hepatitis C (An infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation). This is like when Europeans brought disease to the Americas like small pox.  What’s at stake here are the lives and wellness of Italian citizens. Disease and sickness could be a large threat to Italy’s economy which is already struggling with the cost of migrants. 

The Spectator also states that in the welcome centers, refugees are given free board, lodging, mobile phones, lessons, and three Euros a day. Each migrant costs Italians around thirty-five Euros a day, nearly $13,400 a year. So who is paying for them? Hardworking Italians. Italians with jobs are getting paid less and taxes are raised to pay for the migrants. Most can’t even get a decent job much less a retirement? Monia says “It has become very difficult to find work. If you are able to find it, you have to settle for being underpaid and stripped of benefits; otherwise your employers will send you home and hire refugees. The cost of living rises continuously and salaries are always diminishing. I personally am not able to put away a single dime.”  Again, the facts back this up.  According to TradingEconomics, the personal income tax rate in Italy from 2006-2016 has gone up from 45% to 49%.

Not only has the migrant crises caused economic problems it is also causing an influx in violence and crime. In April of 2016, ABC News states that five men were arrested. The accusations against the five men include trafficking, firearms, explosives, as well as producing fake documents. The arrested men were believed to be part of a group that planned to attack the U.S. Embassy in Rome. They also had suspected links with Al Qaeda. The people in Italy are in danger because they don’t know who is coming into their country anymore.  According to Monia Fortunato “ Ever since our cities were invaded by all of these Muslims, we no longer feel safe to move about, especially in the evening; this is a real shame because Vicenza has always been a very peaceful place and a place to enjoy. Laura Fortunato added, “Personally I am afraid to go places where there are immigrants, especially if I am alone or with my baby and without my husband, and if refugee men are present.”

The violence caused by a wave of Muslim and African migrant men has proven to be especially brutal to Italian women. In an incident reported by Fox News, witnesses say that a man shouted “Allah is great” and “it is Allah who sends me” as he held twenty six year old Chiara Frisco hostage. What is at stake here are Italians citizens’ lives. The current immigration policy id reckless and must be fixed or much better controlled before there is a huge crises. Frisco was visiting Rome’s Colosseum and was forced to her knees by a migrant man, as he held a knife to her throat.  He was charged with attempted murder and resisting arrest. Some Italian citizens are scared for themselves and their children.  Monia Fortunato stated, “Near my house there is a hotel that is full of young Muslim men and it has become unthinkable for me and Martina (Her daughter) to walk past there.  I always remind her to take the long way around that is safer on her way home from school.”  It is easy for politicians and others to tell Italians to be more generous and open their borders, but are other countries willing to endure the same hardships?

Fox News states that more than eighty percent of the immigrants that arrived by sea to Europe went to Italy.  Italy is one percent of Europe by landmass, so why are they getting more than eighty percent of the refugees?  Italy has an agreement with the EU to keep the migrants until their asylum has been decided. Their asylum processing lasts a year and can be renewed. When their stay has expired or their asylum has been denied, most immigrants cannot be found and continue to live illegally in Italy. Dalla Vostra Parte, a well-known Italian news channel, their video has been translated:  “African migrants were rioting after being denied asylum due to criminal behavior. Rather that peacefully leaving the refugee center where they were staying, they barricaded themselves in a room and demanded they be given their daily allowance.  Seven police officers were injured trying to evict the criminals and only four migrants were arrested. The other migrants that were denied asylum are still at the center.”  The video from Dalla Vostra Parte, goes on to show multiple interviews from police, and nearby residents recounting episodes of rape and theft at this particular migrant center in Verbania, Italy.

In another episode of violence reported in January of 2016 by Fox News, Chief Prosecutor Giuseppe said that Ashley Olson, an American woman, had her skull fractured twice before she was strangled with a cord or rope. The prosecutor said that the fractures were inflicted so violently they alone would have killed Olson. Investigators said the perpetrator had also taken Olson’s cell phone and put his own sim card in it and used her phone. Ashley Olsen was visiting Florence, Italy and was brutally murdered by an illegal immigrant from Senegal.  This and many other examples of immigrant violence make us ask ourselves if the current immigration policy is worth the cost.  Is it generous or is it making things worse for everyone?          Soon Italians will be outnumbered, and they will eventually become the minorities in their own country. This may sound extreme but, according to the University of Virginia Library, there were only about six-hundred-thousand European immigrants to the U.S. in the entire 18th century. At the current rate it would only take four years for recent immigrants to Italy to go over this number. This means the current migrants to Italy are immigrating twenty five percent faster than the Europeans to the U.S. in the 18th century.   We all know what happened to the Native Americans during that episode of migration. The average Muslim woman has 2.9 children (Pew research Center) and the average Italian woman has 1.34 children (The Local. It). This means that the average Muslim woman has more than double the amount of children than the average Italian woman. The amount of Muslims in Italy in 2010 was 1,583,000. The projected Muslim population for 2030 is 3,199,000. (Pew Research Center). That is a 102.1% increase in just twenty years.
There are others ways of helping these people than cramming them into another country. Countries could work together to keep them safe and to create a “safe zone” for them in their home country.  Also, food and shelter could be provided to those in need, still in their own country.  As I previously stated, it is mostly the able-bodied men that are migrating, and they are the ones that need to stay and help rebuild their countries. The point is that we cannot make Italians suffer the burden just so that we can feel like the problem is being solved. If they are helped elsewhere both the Italians and refugees will benefit. There will always be a need for refugee aid, but the way it is being done now is not okay.

When it comes to the current European refugee crisis Italians are being asked to pay more than their fair share.  On top of that, the economy is suffering and taxes have been raised dramatically with the cost of so many migrants. Any mass number of people is going to bring disease and it is unfair to ask the Italians to fix the problem.  How would you feel if your children were catching those diseases?  What would you do if you were being underpaid and taxes were rapidly increasing? Will it be safe to visit and enjoy Italy anymore? Their asylum system doesn’t work, so foreign criminals cannot be made to leave their country, and the worst victims of crime are the women. This could be the beginning of the downfall of Italy if something is not done to fix the situation.

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