Per la libertà di movimento, per i diritti di cittadinanza

Emilia Romagna – Regional immigration law, some details

Interview with Gianluca Borghi, Immigration and political affairs councillor, and with Marina Prosperi, legal advisor.

Today we shall deepen some of the issues the bill promotes together with Gianluca Borghi, Immigration and political affairs councillor.

Question: The bill holds some instructions which should promote and favour first accomodation and integration policies in councils and provinces, whereas these political territories won’t decide themselves policies. How does the law intervene in local policies which lack of services and protection without running the risk of creating non-homogenous situations?

Answer: The attempt the proposed bill, which is to become law since the political majority found an agreement, holds is to create and practise a new political dimension in which social affairs, housing, association matters find a common referee within our region. To answer your question, I need to make it clear that we have no real freedom in the management of interventions but regions are still able to define new instruments and new ways of promoting interventions. In this sense we think that working to increase information on immigration issues, to promote knowledge, to sustain initiatives and migrant citizens original culture, to destroy discrimination and esclusion rapresents a new and unknown in Italy way of assuming responsabilities by a region within its own competence which is to be added up to absolutely national one, as stated by the terrible Bossi-Fini law which we wholly obstacled.

Question: Let’s talk about partaking political life. Why do you promote the model of consultation, whose experience Emilia Romagna region has already tried and both the region and the ones who took previously part at it admitted its serious limits? Whay doesn’t the bill propose a new hypotesis in which direct partecipation in public life may lead to the right to vote?

Answer: I completely agree with the fact that previous consultation experiments were a failure. I see three reasons of this. First of all, the region didn’t pay much attention to the former consultation, as a secon point Emilia Romagna had only one consultation to discuss both immigration and emigration matters – this put together absolutely different issues in fact problems connected to citizens coming from here and living in Chile or Argentina cannot be anyhow compared to problems migrants have in our territories. Last but not least, migrant citizens found it hard to be part and to promote instances within this council. We want to give this instrument another try, we want to involve administrations, trade unions, firms, and of coarse migrants. Our region administration lately, while studying this bill, reaffirmed the right everyone has to take part in laws making. And this is a principle we reaffirm as well. We wrote in the bill that the region is to approve of anf sustain all initiatives Councils wiil take in order to fovour migrant citizens direct participation in institutions. In other words, added councilman or migrant citizens councils elections could be an idea, an example is the Rimini one: the 25% of migrant citizens elected their own rapresentives in a council which parallel works to the institutional council. The right to vote is not an issue we can rule on, the constitution staes that the parliament only can produce laws, anyway we all agreed on the fact that while enacting this bill we will try to express an opinion on the right to vote that is to be reported to the government and to the parliament. Within the proposed bill we are also trying to enlarge our competence in order to start working on local councils, on referendums and laws open to migrant citizens. We’ll do everything wee can.

Question: The bill also talks about professional training and guidance, it is said that law’s aim is to promote initiaves that develop professional training, also in countries of origin, the bill expressively says initiatives “fitting labour market demand”. What does the bill wish to do to avoid that training and guidance make migrants only family assistants or factory workers?

Answer: Exactly, we referred to Turco Napoletano law in order to promote training programs in countries of origin. At the moment things work they way you said, assistance is also very different from how people were trained at home. Anyway we won’t ask foreign countries to become coherent to our standards. Firms keep asking for experience and training, this is what we want to work on. Our aim is to help people in their professional training in order to help them in having more working chances in Emilia Romagna.
Question: What about the case of migrant citizens being qualified and holding degrees, will the equilizing of them possible?

Answer: This matter is being discussed upon. Some of our regional competence go together with the wider national system. We’ll try to help out the valorization of schooling and qualifications. What this law is trying to do is to favour and develop new integretions both from a housing point of view and from a professional training point of view. We wrote this part of the bill together with the qualified councillor, unfortunately regions cannot themselves rule on such matter. Once the bill is enacted we’ll push toward this direction.

Question: How do you put together a law whose aim is to safeguard migrants, help integration and citizenship rights with the fact that in Emilia Romagna there are two structures where migrats rights are everyday violated and destroyed? How will Emilia Romagna region concretely behave and act upon the existance of the two detention centres within its territory?
Answer: I will split into two parts my answer. The first part in mainly political, the second both political and institutional. I am part of a party – the Green party – that has always expressed doubts on the rules within Turco-Napolitano law that institute detention centres. And after seeing what happens in Modena and in Bologna I still have this position. I’ve worked with this region president and with Bologna previous prefect in order to open an observatory on rights inside detention centres, lawyers of coarse would be involved as well. No answer came from Ministry of Interior on such proposal, which was very clear: we cannot accept that in our region rights are anywhere and anyway violated. Unfortunaly this is not our competence, but we will keep pretending answers. The regional law or administration could not do anything else on a matter on which we cannot rule upon. Emilia Romagna administration will keep on expressing an absoloutely negative view on detention centres. We’ll do our best to change the situation.

Question: It is in fact hard to guarantee interventions and help to refugees and asylum seekers who are too often shut in detention centres without having the chance of applying for asylum.

Answer: I completely agree with you. When this bill is enacted, we will have a new strong enough set of rules which will be entitled to demand what so far has been denied.

We asked Marina Prosperi, Democratic jurists, which is the critical state of this bill. Marina Prosperi has longly taken care of civil rights and immigration.

Answer: As I’ve already said in many occasions, this bill is quite important because it shows a series of interesting intensions which the law’s aim is to realize. Principles stated in the bill are absolutely shareable and shared by all those ones and associations working on immigration issues. The problem concerns the practicability of the plan. One of the critical points is this one: attempts are exceptional, while their practicability when considering that immigration national law is the strict Bossi-Fini law seems to been extremely difficult. Freedom from labour exploitation and housing rights seems to be hardly practicable. There’s one aspect I do not agree upon, and it is in the law premises, where Emilia Romagna activieties related to immigration are shown. The premises say that it seems that local authorities spontaneously worked on accomadation, housing and integration which is not true. In Bologna first accomodation centres came as a consequence to migrants struggles and occupations. Institutions intervetions only came afterwards. I believe that premises to law should have respected more real facts.
Question: The bill clearly says that it will guarantee rights to all asylum seekers. Do you think that this will be possible when national law doe not rule asylum rights? What do think about this point?

Answer: In Italy asylum right isn’t ruled anyhow. There’s anyway a set of constitutional instructions recognizing this right and this is very important because it is the root on which all following laws are based. It is however true that tha lack of an actual law makes asylum recognition arbitrary in fact no general criteria, which the state should follow in order to release asylum status, are provided for. From this point of view the region pays the price of such contradiction. The region can only financially sustain asylum seekers and refugees, but nothing it can do on criteria helping recognition of status out. The bill chapter holds a position I think should be approved of and sustained since according to Bossi-Fini law when migrants apply for asylum they are to stay in a detention centres otherwise in case they leave the centre their moving away can be interpreted as a release of the application, according to the strict interpretation of the law. Therefore a bill that provides for a financial aid to all asylum seekers can be read as an alternative to detention. From this point of view the region aim is praiseworhty. On the other hand, I believe that it is extremely difficult that a regional law fills the gaps a state law left on purpose. The government refuses to take care of such an important matter because recognizing asylum rights would open borders to thousands people and another necessary recognition: financial asylum. And via doing this the problem connected to entries and to Schengen agreements. Up to the day Bossi-Fini law rules for the enforcement do not exist and nothing is said about detaining asylum seekers, local institutions are basically obliged to safeguard the ones applying for refugee status.