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5.2 million legal immigrants live in Italy

Itay's immigrant population grows 30% in six years

13 November, 16:17
5.2 million legal immigrants live in Italy (ANSA) - Rome, November 13 - There are 5.2 million legal immigrants in Italy, or roughly 8.7% of Italy's population of 60 million, revealed the Statistical Dossier on Immigration 2013 presented on Wednesday in Rome by Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge.

The immigrant count greatly exceeds the government statistical agency Istat's figure of 4.4 million, and marks the first time the dossier is not signed by two Catholic charities, Fondazione Migrantes (Migrants Foundation) and Caritas Italiana (Italian Caritas).

Instead the dossier was furnished through a coordinated effort of the government's Anti-racial Discrimination Office (Unar), under the Premier's Office, and the research firm Idos, which has analyzed the data for the report in the past. The reason for the difference between Istat's numbers and Unar's is that Istat counts only immigrants on official registries.

Italy's painful economic squeeze since the global financial crisis has slowed but not stopped immigration. From 2007 to 2012, the number of immigrants in Italy grew 30% from under four million.

The increase is due not only to foreigners seeking work, but also to family reunification and births to immigrants in Italy.

Italy does not grant citizenship on the basis of birth or length of residency on Italian territory, but blood and marriage relationships to Italians. In 2012, nearly 80,000 children were born to immigrant couples, and roughly 27,000 were born to mixed Italian-foreigner couples.

The total population of immigrant minors in Italy is more than 900,000 for non-EU citizens, and 250,000 for EU citizens.

Immigrant population growth was far smaller in 2012 than in previous years, up 8.2% for EU citizens and up 3.5% for non-EU citizens. At the same time, return flows to countries of origin are rising, more out of necessity and lack of employment in Italy than choice, the study found.

The countries of origin for Italy's immigrant population are 50.3% European, 22.2% African, 19.4% Asian, 8% from the Americas, and 0.1% from Oceania.

The single largest immigrant group is Romanians, who number about one million in Italy.