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Home Victims of the news The fearsome immigrant

The fearsome immigrant

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Immigrant woman working in a field in Italy with his son A report edited by foundations in Europe and America, Transatlantic Trends: immigration, "photographed" the view of Europeans and North Americans, the rich West, about immigration. What emerges is a widespread ignorance, fears unjustified, and few positive news. The most interesting aspect for us is to discover that Italians aren't the only rich country to have had for years anti-immigrant propaganda on newspapers and televisions.

The results of this survey is clearly that in other western countries the hatred and fear towards foreigners have spread almost as in Italy, and in some cases even worse. For approximately 20% of Italians and the English for example, immigration is the most important issue of the moment, while in other countries the average is less than 10%, and from this we understand that there is a certain paranoia about immigration in these two countries. But in this the British are worse than the Italians, seeing that 66% consider immigration more a problem than an opportunity, compared to 49% of Italians, on average with other nations.
The most interesting data, however, is to see that Europeans and North Americans have a totally distorted perception of immigration, as emerges in the question, "What percentage of the population of your country is an immigrant?". Canadians have responded 37%, even if in reality immigrants are only 20%. Americans 35%, when in reality it is only 14% and so on in Europe with answers that show how people think that immigrants are twice or three times the number they actually are. But the Italians, who think that immigrants are 23% of the population when in fact they are only 6% almost quadruple the original number. _tipon(this)" onmouseout="_tipoff()">Fortunately, the vast majority of Italians, 74%, don't think that immigrants steal jobs to the Italians, and slightly less in the other nations except the United States, where 53% do not think so but the 44% believe it, and the Great Britain, the only nation where a majority, 54% believe that immigrants are taking work away from those born in the country. The majority of the British, and even the Spanish, also think that immigrants bring down the average wages, while in Italy only 40% believe it and slightly more or slightly less in other Western nations. There are of course significant differences according to political membership: 65% of Europeans who say they are right-winged thinks that immigration is a problem, while among those who claim to be of the left only the 35% think so, 50% among those of the center. Percentages still very high and based on prejudice, because in fact immigration from a general economic standpoint brings benefits and wealth. In the United States 73% of republicans consider immigration a problem, but only 48% of democrats, an average much higher than Europe, despite the United States has built up over the years their economic supremacy thanks to immigration.
The concern is very different between legal and illegal immigrants. If legal immigration worries on average only 25% of the citizens of the rich West, are concerned about illegal immigration on average more than 60% of people. And in Italy only 21% are concerned about legal immigration, but the 81% it is of the illegal one, the highest result of all. This figure is clearly due to years of propaganda against the "clandestines", but in our country in particular is an absurdity, since the laws we have and we've had make illegal even legal immigrants, when they lose work, and the waves of paranoia against particular groups such as Roma and Romanians have nothing to do with illegal immigrants because they are Europeans, and as such, legal immigrants. Italians are afraid of illegal immigrants but don't know really who they are, thanks to confusion fueled by our bad information.
The majority of European and North American also has a pair of positive opinions about immigrants, both legal and illegal, and think they're hard workers and do jobs that need manpower. However, many also think that they weigh down on the school system and health care (37% thinks that of the legal immigrants and as much as 62% of the illegal): a view that shows an unacceptable racism, because if the immigrants live, work, consume and pay taxes in a country is obvious that the country should provide them with the social and health benefits they have earned and paid.
Many also think that immigrants increase the crime: 35% think it even of legal immigrants and 60% of irregular migrants. Yet this is a huge falsehood: in recent decades in Western countries, the overall rate of crime has not risen. Crime comes largely from poverty, and if once the poor were all natives now among them there are many immigrants. Moreover, the public, not incidentally but to the benefit of the powerful, often does not understand that financial crime, pollution and political corruption, arising from greed and not poverty, are much more serious and damaging to society than theft committed by the poor. Italy is in fact the country most misinformed, where 77% of the population thinks, wrongly, that illegal immigrants increase crime.
Many also think that immigrants increase the risk of terrorist attacks: 26% think it of legal immigrants, 41% of irregular migrants. Yet this is a racist opinion because are not the immigrants themselves to be terrorists, could be only a small number of fanatics who do not represent them all. Also the West over the years has had several cases of indigenous terrorism, sometimes done by the states themselves.
Only 28% of Britons and 36% of Italians, the lowest percentages in the West, is in favor of legalization of illegal immigrants. Here too deep ignorance on the part of the Italians, because the majority of illegal immigrants has never committed crimes nor arrived illegally, but simply worked illegally.
Many Europeans, 35%, and in Italy 45%, think that the best way to reduce illegal immigration would be to help countries in the developing world. Too bad, as we have seen in the recent FAO summit, the West is doing almost nothing. Even if the West did, it would not serve in any case to stop a historical phenomenon such as immigration, after centuries in which the West has exploited and robbed outside Europe.
There is also some positive news: 57% of Italians, just one point behind the European average, would welcome legal immigrants to vote, and also 87% of Italians, the highest average in the west, believes that legal immigrants are entitled to the social safety net as all citizens. But it should be remembered that in Italy many safety nets of other countries, such as unemployment benefits, in practice do not exist. With some honesty, 47% of Italians also recognizes that the difficulties of integration depends on discrimination, while 31% think it's because immigrants do not want to integrate. A majority greater than that of the United States and France, while in Canada and the rest of Europe, the majority blames immigrants.
With regard to migration management by governments, the British are the most dissatisfied, 71% think the government is not doing enough to solve "the problem" and are also unhappy the Spanish, Americans and Italians (53%). But it is difficult to comment on this answer because the question was neutral (How do you think the government is handling the immigration) and then among those who answered "poorly" there are those who want even more stringent laws and those who think that the policy choices of the government are racist, wrong or ineffective.
Finally, the vast majority of Westerners, almost 70% is generous on paper and would allow the immigration of people affected by environmental disasters caused by climate change. That would be a minimal compensation, given that global warming is indeed caused by the rich West, but seeing the attitude that many rich countries have in general towards the refugees of war, that is rejecting them, there is not too much hope that such good intentions will ever become reality.
In short, the report at the end is less worrisome than might have been expected, given the widespread and unjustified paranoia in the West toward immigrants, but the fact remains that a good part of the inhabitants of the rich  and selfish West believe in a series of glaring falsehoods that fuel racism: they think that immigrants are much more numerous than they are in reality, they think that many are potential terrorists or criminals and many are hostile to the idea of granting them the political and civil rights they are entitled to. Result of widespread paranoia in the first place in the media, where rarely is said that immigration always brings to the host country development and wealth and the stories of crimes overcome the stories of honest and innocent immigrants, even if they are a thousand times more numerous.

Francesco Defferrari

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Last Updated on Thursday, 03 December 2009 16:58  
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