Italian Migration Policies in Times of Crisis. the Policy Gap Reconsidered

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Tiziana CAPONIO, University of Turin, Italy
Teresa CAPPIALI, Collegio Carlo Alberto, Italy
Existing studies suggest a persistent gap between restrictive immigration policies and expansive inflows; however how such a gap is reconfigured in times of crisis has not been the object of reflection so far. Focusing on how migration policies have evolved in the 2007-17 decade in Italy in response to the economic crisis that started in 2008 and the migration/refugee crisis that started in 2011, this paper aims to assess how the policy gap underlying migration policies in this country since the early 1990, has been affected by overlapping crises. Our analysis suggests to reconsider current hypotheses on the policy gap—namely the ‘client politics’ and the ‘embedded liberal’ hypotheses. While the economic crisis resulted in more restrictive policies and border controls, the migration crisis played a major role in the relaxation of these policies. Yet, both immigrant stocks and migration flows have undergone a moderate increase throughout the decade; furthermore, a relevant aspect characterising new inflows is the declining number of migrant workers and the sharp increase of asylum seekers. This reconfigured policy gap, we argue, is not the result of the pressure by traditional economic actors and civil society organisations, who had been particularly influential in pushing the state to be more permissive policies in the past. It rather reflects contradictions within the institutional sphere, and more specifically between political actors, administrative actors and EU institutions.