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Italy's immigrants de facto citizens, says Kyenge

More than half are Romanian, new asylum law promised

13 November, 18:00
Italy's immigrants de facto citizens, says Kyenge (ANSA) - Rome, November 13 - There are over five million immigrants now living in Italy, and they contribute 1.4 billion euros to State coffers, according to statistics released Wednesday by Idos immigration research center and the premier's anti-discrimination office UNAR.

''They are still being called foreigners, but what most people don't realize is that these immigrants are de facto citizens," Integration Minister Cécile Kyenge said. Italy's immigration and citizenship law is at least 20 years out of date, Kyenge said, and must be reformed in line with EU directives.

''We will reform all our norms on asylum, refugees, and asylum seekers by December 31, so that we can have a single bill by 2014. It is a duty, and this government has made it a priority on its agenda'', Kyenge added.

Between 2007-2012, immigrants to the Bel Paese rose from 4 million to 5.186 million due to new arrivals, births, and family reunions, the Idos-UNAR report showed.

More than half, or 50.3%, are Romanian, and there are an estimated nine million Romanians now living in Italy.

There are also 900,000 non-EU minors, who were either born in Italy or came to join relatives, while minors from other EU countries total 250,000.

Almost 80,000 children were born to immigrant parents in 2012, and another 27,000 kids were born to mixed Italian-foreign couples.

Also in 2012, authorities issued 81,322 family-related visas, down from 83,493 such visas issued in 2011.

But the economic crisis combined with on-the-job discrimination also drive people out of the country: last year, at least 180,000 work- and family-related residency permits lapsed and were not renewed. ''Immigrants are often given the inferior jobs, are paid less and fired more easily than Italians," said Deputy Labor Minister Maria Cecilia Guerra. ''These are almost always single-income families, with no extended family network to fall back on''.

The government wants to remedy this situation by reaching out to immigrants via its labor policies, Guerra added.