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Considering the Possibility and Practice of Global Citizenship

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Italy: One-Way Ticket to Europe

Posted by jonthepackardman on February 11, 2009

After viewing this video on Frontline World, I was amazed to find that Italy is one of few countries, if not the only one, that allows the immigration of persons seeking political asylum into the country. In fact, the Italian Coast Guard and several other government agencies put vast amounts of resources (both money and time) into rescuing the people who sail across the Mediterranean from Africa in search of a better life.

While it may seem that the Italians are welcoming these people with open arms, this is not necessarily the case. While every immigrant’s experience is different, some are greeted with nothing more than a “buongiorno” on the street, and have yet to make any Italian friends. Many have found their experiences in Italy to be rather disappointing, very unlike that which they had expected and heard about in their native lands. While I personally find it rather distressing that these people are not more thankful and come off as ungrateful that the Italian Coast Guard would save them and the country would allow them in instead of deporting them, I do feel sympathy for these escapees. The problem that they are now confronted with is that they miss their families, and have no way of returning home (either legally or not).

It was quite interesting to find that many Italians sort of look-the-other-way in regards to these aliens, however, they do not want them to disrupt their fishing and especially tourist industries. If they did so it would almost certainly mean the end of immigration to the small Island of Lampedusa, which relies heavily on these areas as sources of revenue, as natives would almost certainly be up-in-arms over the immigrants’ impact on the “micro-economy” of the island.

It should not go unnoticed though that the Italian government is leading the way in the European Union, as far as allowing immigrants into the country. Most of the other countries within the union will not even hear of allowing aliens in. Italy has proven to be acutely aware of the humanitarian and political crises of the Middle East and Africa that have yielded such massive amounts of refugees. While Italians as a whole may not have, the government has certainly welcomed them with open-arms (providing food, shelter, and in some cases clothing!) and has taken an active participation in embracing these people – the mark of a government acting as a global citizen.

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