Migration Policy: When an Emergency Rule Becomes the Rule: Evidence from Italy
22 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2014
Date Written: July 22, 2014
Anecdotal evidence exists that migrants experience difficulties in complying with Italian immigration rules (i.e., residence permit applications and renewals), given the country’s intricate and inconsistent legal framework. As a consequence, migrants often require legal assistance in regularizing their status. In 2011, to manage the exceptional flow of refugees escaping political turmoil in North Africa and the Libyan civil war, the Italian government released the North Africa Emergency Provisions (ENA), which temporarily relaxed immigration policies for some categories of migrants. By using data from an important charity in Milan (Casa della Carità) that provides legal assistance to migrants, we were able to perform difference-in-differences estimations and investigate the impact of this emergency rule on the probability of migrants regularizing their legal status. Results show that the ENA provisions actually increased the number of successful applications in favor of individuals who were entitled to benefit from them; it also dramatically boosted the denial rate for all other migrants. This suggests that some migrants suffered a sort of displacement due to the enactment of the emergency rules. We discuss the possible causes of this anomaly from a policy perspective.
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