Freitag, 28. August 2015

Caltanissetta: The commitment of the Counter for Immigrants, the market for residency and the administrative procedures for the renewal of the residence permit.

Established 10 years ago and carried on by the commitment of 4 volunteers, the Counter for Immigrants of Caltanissetta activated the service for enrolment into the civil registry for people without a fixed home of the municipality of Caltanissetta in 2013, with the intention to hinder and combat the market for false residencies which had established in town – especially by some citizens who speculated on the necessity of foreigners to register for the renewal of the residence permit. Citizens of Caltanissetta who probably are part of those who are against the welcoming of migrants, who applaud the xenophobic comments of local and national politicians and who are always ready to move between institutional voids hat open spaces to illegality and to the exploitation of the most vulnerable.

The price of fictitious residencies had reached 700 euros, the names of the landlords on the tenancy agreements were always the same, but no investigation from the competent authorities had ever taken place and no measures had been taken by the institutions in order to identify and punish those responsible.
Only the Counter for Immigrants took concrete actions for hindering the outrageous sale of residencies, and for assisting those persons who were forced into the hands of the perpetrators for being recognized the right for renewal of the residence permit. And considering that to determine the situation of limbo was an absurd procedure, which linked the renewal of the permit to the civil registration (and not the other way round) joined to the absence of an administrative service that should have provided said registration, the Counter offered to the municipality its availability to manage the enrolment to the civil registry for people without a fixed home for foreigners who possessed an almost expired residence permit.

After almost two years, the Counter amply demonstrated to the succeeding local administrations that the recognition of fundamental rights has not necessarily something to do with financial statements, and that it is possible to work according to principles of legality while contrasting phenomena of speculation and exploitation by simply protecting the rights of everybody. Several times the Counter urged the responsible offices to take action in order to provide what is foreseen by the law 94/2009, which foresees that a person without fixed home is being considered a resident of the municipality in which she or he has a domicile – understood as the place where the person concentrates the generality of her or his interests. But because of the continuous passivity of the municipality, which didn’t show any interest in solving the problem, they suspended the service for enrolment into the civil registry, giving back their responsibilities to the competent institutions. Said suspension was correlated to an immediate surge of the market for fictitious residencies and, while the volunteers of the Counter spread statements and sent letters to the managers of the responsible services urging them to take responsibility for this situation, no answer was given and the institutions did nothing concrete.

Meanwhile, the Counter continued to inform and assist the many foreign citizens who visited their office with the legitimate request to register their residency in their place of domicile. The written request to be presented at the civil registry office was of no help and forced to Kafkaesque back and forth of 5 kilometers under the sun between the civil registry office of the municipality and the immigration office of the police headquarters, the unfortunate were told to go back to the Counter.
Until, finally, someone got the message and something changed. Indeed, already for some weeks now, the police headquarters of Caltanissetta renew the residence permits regardless of the requisites of residency, solving the situation of limbo caused by the impassibility of a municipality that still shows no signs of being able to operate on a territory affected by the presence of asylum seekers since 1998 when the government center of Pian del Lago was opened.

However, the timing for the renewal of the permits of residency, which reached 8 months, still appears alarming. A foreign citizen who requests the renewal of his permit of residency today is being convened to the offices of the police headquarters in April 2016 and he is being given a simple piece of paper with the date of the appointment. For the persons concerned, this “uncovering” equals to the impossibility to sign leasing or working contracts, as well as to maintain the registration to the National Health Service for the whole period in which they are not effectively in possession of a valid permit of residency or of a form that certifies their request for the renewal.
After all, the Office for Immigration of the police headquarters of Caltanissetta has been unstaffed for years and since last January – because of the increasingly urgent necessity to accelerate the timing of the procedures (identification, reception and notification of the decisions of the territorial commission) – the hours of the linguistic mediators have been reduced as per ministerial provision.  Provision, which symbolizes the sense of responsibility by which this government (like all others before) addresses the issue of immigration.

Giovanna Vaccaro
Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation: Chiara Guccione