Faced with a lack of manpower in the countryside due to the closure of borders because of the COVID-19 crisis, the government of Italy decided to legalize some 200,000 migrants so as to guarantee the development of the spring and summer agricultural campaigns and the supply of the population.
"The closure of neighborhood markets favors large distribution outlets and speculation," lamented Antonio Tesini, who is part of a strawberry cooperative near Verona that accounts for 45% of Italy's strawberry production. The strawberries are rotting in the greenhouses because there was no one to harvest them. If an emergency workforce does not arrive soon, there will be no one to tend to or harvest the asparagus, cherries, and summer fruits and vegetables. "The workers must be legalized, whether we like it or not," said Tito Boeri, the former president of the Italian Social Security (Inps).
A renewable year
Teresa Bellanova, the Minister of Agriculture, has already prepared an express law, shared by the entire Government, to temporarily legalize 200,000 migrants for one year, so that they can work as day laborers. They are part of the nearly 610,000 clandestine immigrants in the country, according to the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). Coldretti, a national association of self-employed workers that has 1.5 million members, has received 3,500 requests to find jobs in the agricultural sector. The candidates are graduates, engineers and electricians.
Regularization will also help control the population's lockdown, as it is difficult to control the 610,000 people that have piled up in true shanty towns that have sprung up in various areas of the south. "If you are no longer invisible or a ghost, the state will know who you are and where you are, so it can guarantee you health care," the Ministry of Agriculture stated. "It is useless to create red zones if later there are illegal settlements that can be potential sources of infection," analysts stated.