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Migration Regulation:the Displacement Effects of Emergency Rules. Evidemnce from the Legal Advice Service of Casa della Carità

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Lucia Dalla Pellegrina Margherita  Saraceno Mattia Suardi

 


Lucia dalla Pellegrinaa, Margherita Saracenob, Mattia Suardic
aDEMS, University of Milano-Bicocca and "Paolo Baffi" Center, Università Bocconi,
bDEMS, University of Milano-Bicocca and ACLE, University of Amsterdam.
cIUSS Pavia


Abstract


In 2011, the Italian government released the North Africa Emergency Provisions (ENA) temporarily relaxing immigration policies for refugees who fled to Italy as a consequence of the Libyan civil war and political turmoil in North Africa. One of the most important charities in Milan - Casa della Carità (CdC) provides legal advice to migrants wishing to comply with immigration rules. CdC had to handle a relevant number of applications for residence permit in accordance with the ENA. During the emergency, legal advisers at CdC directly experienced a significant change in the outcomes of the applications related to its users.
In this study we use an original dataset based on CdC micro-data to run empirical analyses to estimate the impact of the ENA provisions on the probability of obtaining a residence permit. As expected, the analysis shows that such provisions actually increased the number of residence permits released to migrants entitled to the ENA benefits. On the other hand, the emergency rules seem to be associated with a significant displacement effect on permits required following ordinary procedures. In particular, our results show that migrants who were not entitled to the ENA protection suffered from exacerbated difficulties in obtaining residence permits according to the standard procedures.

 

Keywords: Migration policy; North Africa emergency provisions; Legal advice; Rule displacement.


Introduction


In Italy, extra-European-Union migrants face a number of specific legal and administrative issues related to migration regulation. In particular, in order to live legally in the country, these migrants are required to hold a residence permit (permesso di soggiorno). Although this administrative certificate can be obtained from public authorities (Police) if migrants satisfy a number of conditions and provide standard documents, common evidence exists that many migrants cannot go through State-provided channels in order to comply with migration rules. Casa della Carità (CdC, hereafter) - an outstanding example of an Italian charity that provides migrants with free legal assistance in Milan - handles several residence permit applications every day.
There is evidence that, on the occasion of their arrival to Italy, migrants prefer to require not the ordinary residence permits for working, studying, and family reasons (even if entitled) but specific types of permits that are intended to manage asylum-seeking procedures (namely, residence permits for refugees).
Actually, the condition of an asylum-seeking person is often perceived as an easier way to legally stay in the country for a given time (i.e., the period legally provided for the individual request to be decided by the competent authorities). Such a bias may thus seriously put at risk the "physiology" of applications for residence permits.
Further difficulties related to the ambiguities between permits for refugees and ordinary permits rose when the political turmoil in North Africa and the Libyan civil war erupted in 2011, as a large number of refugees and migrants fled to Italy. The Italian Government responded to the crisis by declaring a state of emergency. On April 5, 2011, recognizing this exceptional situation, the government adopted temporary measures of humanitarian protection in favor of refugees from North Africa (Emergenza Nord Africa, hereafter, ENA). The ENA provisions, in fact, introduced a regime of special protection by temporarily relaxing general immigration policies for migrants who fled from North Africa (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia) to Italy in the relevant period (January 1 - April 5, 2011) . These migrants were automatically granted a temporary permit of stay for humanitarian reasons. The duration of this regime was repeatedly extended, due to the persistent situation of instability in North Africa. Furthermore, on August 3, 2011 some specific emergency measures were extended to migrants from other African countries (namely, the Horn of Africa, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda).
There is anecdotal evidence that this temporary special protection was also requested by people who were not eligible for it (for example, individuals who had already been in the country illegally). This exploitation of the emergency provisions is likely to have exacerbated the already existing difficulties with handling migration policy procedures. It is no coincidence that, during the emergency, users at CdC directly experienced a significant change in the outcomes of the residence permit applications.
In this study, we use an original dataset based on CdC micro-data to run an empirical analysis to estimate the effects of the ENA provisions on the probability of obtaining a residence permit. As expected, the analysis shows that the emergency provisions actually increased the number of residence permits released to migrants entitled to the ENA benefits. On the other hand, such provisions seem to be associated with a significant displacement effect against standard requests for residence permits. In particular, migrants not entitled to the ENA provisions suffered exacerbated difficulties in obtaining residence permits according to the ordinary procedures.


Data and empirical analysis


We use self-collected data from CdC. The data are from the January 1, 2010 - March 31, 2013 period and were coded using files and other documents filled by operators at CdC. Statistics show an increase in 2011 in the flows of foreign citizens from Africa, due to the civil war in Libya and political turmoil in Egypt and the Maghreb (cf. Table 1).
As shown by Table 2, the largest part of legal issues handled by CdC and involving migrants concerns applications for a residence permit. Statistics also show that the rate of success for permit applications increased among African migrants after the ENA provisions. Notably, also non-African migrants seem to have been impacted by the enactment of the ENA regime, even though these provisions did not apply to them. In fact, the rate of success among non-African migrants after April 5, 2011 decreased from 64% to 43% (cf. Table 3).
As mentioned, the ENA provisions granted a temporary residence permit for humanitarian reasons to all refugees who fled from countries subject to humanitarian emergency. As such, the ENA regime appears to be a good natural experiment since it was implemented after the outbreak of the emergency and only for a specific group of migrants (those who had fled to Italy from specific countries) before the enactment of the rule.
We run difference-in-differences regressions to estimate the impact of the ENA provisions on the probability of obtaining a residence permit. The regression model used to generate the results that are discussed below is provided in the Appendix. Table 4 shows summary statistics and descriptions of all the variables used to carry out the regressions.

Table 1: No. of migrants provided with legal assistance (Jan. 2010 - Mar. 2013) by time of arrival in Italy and place of origin.
Region 70s 80s 90s 2000 2004 2005 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013(1) N.A. Total
North Africa 0 7 9 4 22 9 47 2 0 15 115
Sub-Sahara 1 1 3 17 77 15 74 12 3 18 221
Latin America 0 3 2 1 3 0 0 0 0 17 26
East Asia 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 3
Eastern Europe 1 1 3 4 2 2 0 0 0 10 23
Middle East 0 0 0 0 4 4 5 1 0 0 14
Indian Subcont. 0 0 0 0 3 5 28 3 0 3 42
Others 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 2 12 17 28 112 35 154 18 3 64 445
Source: Casa della Carità, Milano. (1)Until March.

Table 2: Legal and administrative issues.
Type No. issues(1) % of total applicants(2)
Application for residence permits 362 81%
Other problems related to immigration 90 20%
Issues not related to immigration 123 28%
Source: Casa della Carità, Milano.
(1) The no. of issues is larger than the no. of migrants as some individuals faced more than one single problem.
(2) Calculated on the total number of migrants (445).

Table 3: Rate of success of the applications: migrants from countries subject to emergency and other migrants applying for a residence permit, January 1, 2010 - December 31, 2011.
Filing date % of success
Countries subject to emergency Before ENA 54%
After ENA 70%
Other migrants Before ENA 64%
After ENA 43%
Source: Casa della Carità, Milano.

Estimated parameters show that the ENA regime significantly affected both migrants who were entitled to the application of the ENA provisions and the control group (i.e., migrants who were not eligible for the ENA benefits). In Table 5 we report results of the Logit estimates, where the treated group is represented by North African citizens and people from the Horn of Africa and other countries mentioned in the Presidential Decree of August 3, 2011 (labelled entitled in the tables). In general, results show that the interaction term entitled*time - which is associated with the effect of the ENA provisions on the group of entitled applicants - is always positive and significant. The somehow unexpected result, instead, is that after the enactment of the ENA regime the probability of obtaining a residence permit dramatically decreases for the control group of migrants (the parameter associated with time is always negative and significant).

Table 4: Summary statistics and variable definition.
Variable Definition % Mean Std. Dev. Min Max
Obtain RP 1 if permit is obtained 0.533149
marital_spouse_it 1 if partner in Italy 0.27
hh_orig_home 1 if family of origin resides in home country 0.48
edu_no 1 if no education 0.19
birth(1) birth date 29703.86 3711.69 11967 34768
Number of observations: 362. (1)Day number 1 corresponds to January 1, 1900.

In order to provide robust empirical evidence we first need to avoid the risk that the observed pattern might be the pure outcome of events, other than the ENA provisions, affecting people with some characteristics in a different way from people with other characteristics. Political conflicts and adverse environmental conditions in the countries of origin are just an example of such aggregated shocks. Due to this possibility, we check for the robustness of our hypothesis controlling for measurable features (other than the entitlement to the ENA regime) that may have variously affected the treated and the control group in terms of the probability of obtaining a residence permit during the relevant period of analysis. In particular, Table 5 reports the estimates resulting from five different specifications of our regression model where we progressively include regional and country fixed effects (columns (a)-(e)). In the first specification (column (a)) we omit all fixed effects but the operator and office dummies. In the second specification (column (b)) all regional fixed effects are accounted for, while in column (c) we include regional dummies that do not correspond to regions subject to the ENA provisions. Finally, in column (d) all national fixed effects are considered, while in column (e) we include dummies for the country-of-origin except those corresponding to nations subject to the ENA provisions.
Regarding other possible biases which may alter our predictions, we exclude that the ENA enactment may have itself caused changes in the definition of the group of entitled migrants at the aggregate (i.e., national) level. In fact, as mentioned, the first relevant decree was enacted on April 5, whereas the time of arrival in Italy required for eligibility was January 1 - April 5, 2011. As a consequence, the ENA enactment should not have, per se, generated an additional influx of migrants from countries subject to the emergency who were wishing to exploit these special provisions. Moreover, it is worth noting that, since the ENA residence permits have mostly been granted according to verifiable characteristics (nationality and time of arrival in Italy), the probability of success should not, in principle, depend upon the individual immeasurable traits of the migrant.
There is additional noteworthy evidence from our estimates in relation to the parameters associated with other covariates in Tables 5 (and A.1 in the Appendix). In particular, being younger and illiterate seems to increase the probability of being accorded a permit. This could be justified by the fact that socially weaker individuals tend to receive more protection. Conversely, having family in the home-country reduces the probability of obtaining a permit, indicating a major vulnerability among people who have no network in Italy.
Finally, it is worth observing that relevant contribution in explaining the variance of the dependent variable is exerted by country-of-origin dummies, as is clearly visible from comparison of different values of both the pseudo R2 and R2 (cf. columns (d) and (e) in Tables 5 and A.1).

Table 5: ENA impact on the success rate of applicants for a residence permit. Logit estimates. Treated group: citizens from North Africa, the Horn, KE, UG, SD who entered Italy between January 1 and April 5, 2011.
Variable (a) (b) (c) (d) (e)
time -0.160** -0.154** -0.154** -0.162** -0.162**
(0.077) (0.077) (0.077) (0.072) (0.067)
entitled 0.056 0.143 0.039 0.081 0.105
(0.072) (0.098) (0.088) (0.066) (0.084)
entitled*time 0.248*** 0.257*** 0.259*** 0.248*** 0.234***
(0.084) (0.086) (0.086) (0.080) (0.074)
birth 0.000*** 0.000*** 0.000*** 0.000*** 0.000*
(0.000) (0.000) (0.000) (0.000) (0.000)
marital_spouse_it 0.236*
(0.125)
hh_orig_home -0.175* -0.179* -0.165* -0.264** -0.200**
(0.100) (0.096) (0.097) (0.103) (0.101)
edu_no 0.330* 0.311* 0.342*
(0.180) (0.193) (0.187)
constant -0.653**
(0.268)
Region dummy: NorthAfr., AfricaSub. no yes no no no
Region dummy: East Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Sub India no yes yes no no
Italian speaker dummy no yes yes yes yes
Origin country dummy: all countries no no no yes no
Origin country dummy: all countries expt. DZ, EG,ER, ET, KE, LY, MA, MR, SO, SD, TN(1) no no no no yes
Operator dummies yes yes yes yes yes
Office dummies yes yes yes yes yes
Pseudo R2 0.08 0.11 0.10 0.33 0.25
Dep. variable is obtainRP=1 if permit was obtained. Observations: 362. Marginal effects are reported.
* p<0.1; ** p<0.05; *** p<0.01. Standard errors clustered at country-of-origin level in parenthesis.
Variables "marital_spouse_it", "edu_no"and the constant term are omitted when non-significant.
(1) Algeria (DZ), Egypt (EG), Eritrea (ER), Ethiopia (ET), Kenya (KE), Libya (LY), Morocco (MA), Mauritania (MR), Somalia (SO), Sudan (SD), Tunisia (TN).

 

Conclusions


In this study we used data collected at CdC - an important charity in Milan that provides legal assistance to migrants who apply for a residence permit - to estimate the effects of the North Africa Emergency rules of April 5, 2011 (ENA) and the other provisions adopted by the Italian government in the context of the African crises on the probability of migrants being accorded a residence permit.
The empirical analysis shows a significant increase in the probability of obtaining a residence permit for the treated group following the enactment of the ENA rules. This finding is somehow expected and supported by anecdotal evidence. However, according to our analysis the ENA provisions also impacted - negatively - the condition of migrants in the control group, as their probability of being accorded a residence permit dramatically decreases following the ENA.
At least three not-mutually exclusive explanations - largely supported by anecdotal evidence - may justify our results.
First, a possible explanation may be identified as an unwanted shifting effect: in the face of the emergency, some non-eligible migrants might unsuccessfully have tried to apply for the ENA regime or any another form of international or humanitarian protection. Accordingly, this effect may either be due to lack of information or it may represent the consequence of "tricky" applications made on an inconsistent basis. From this perspective, possible policy implications would be to require better information on the part of public authorities and a more prudential attitude among legal advisors in terms of orienting applicants.
A second interpretation of our results may simply relate to the difficulties associated with handling the crisis: the massive flow of newly-arrived migrants from Africa might have somehow "jammed" the entire system, deteriorating the position of non-African migrants. Therefore, the ENA rules might have had an adverse effect on the functioning of the already overloaded authorities that assess requests for protection.
A third possible explanation may relate to the implementation of a tacit policy by public authorities, aimed to ration - or, at least, restrain - the number of residence permits accorded each year. Although the Italian government does not explicitly make use of quotas with regard to requests for international or humanitarian protection, there is the possibility that the increase in the number of permits accorded to African migrants - due to the ENA regime - was counterbalanced by a stricter attitude in the case of applications made by non-African migrants.
Finally, irrespective of the reasons why the ENA provisions significantly displaced migrants who were not entitled to benefit of the emergency provisions, the analysis casts light on the fact that exceptional measures may be useful to handle emergencies but can also have adverse effects, such as the displacement of ordinary procedures. As a concluding remark, we recognize that migration policies inevitably pose serious challenges, especially for a country like Italy that often faces migration emergencies as it represents a natural crossroad for international migration flows. Nonetheless, a careful institutional reflection is needed to avoid that every emergency becomes a source of imbalance in the physiology of migration policy.



Appendix


The estimated regression model is:

where i refers to the level of the individual migrant; obtainRP indicates whether a residence permit was accorded; time takes the value 1 if the migrant asked for legal assistance from the time the first ENA provision was enacted (April 5, 2011) onwards; whereas entitled is a dummy which equals 1 when the migrant fulfilled the requirements to benefit from the ENA treatment (being a migrant who arrived in Italy between January 1 and April 5, 2011 from one country among North African countries, the Horn of Africa, Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda).
Parameters α0 and α1 estimate the effect of the ENA provisions on the control group respectively before and after the treatment. Correspondingly, α2 and α3 estimate the effect on the treated group before and after the treatment, respectively. is a (m×1) vector of covariates, including date of birth, education, marital status, information regarding the family of origin, and regional and country-of-origin fixed effects. Other non-significant control variables (gender, regular employment, dwellings, and types of education) have been initially included and then deleted according to a stepwise method. All the social variables included as controls are likely to grasp a higher degree of vulnerability of some individuals. Accordingly, is a (m×1) vector of parameters associated with these covariates. Dummies for the advisor and the office receiving applicants at CdC have also been introduced. Finally, we assume that F is the cumulative distribution of a logistic random variable.
Table A.1: ENA impact on the success rate of applicants for a residence permit. OLS estimates. Treated group: cit. from North Africa, the Horn, KE, UG, SD who entered Italy between Jan. 1 and Apr. 5, 2011.
Variable (a) (b) (c) (d) (e)
time -0.148** -0.142** -0.144** -0.141** -0.154**
(0.068) (0.068) (0.068) (0.066) (0.066)
entitled 0.056 0.139 0.042 0.149** 0.143
(0.066) (0.088) (0.082) (0.058) (0.089)
entitled*time 0.226*** 0.232*** 0.238*** 0.216*** 0.223***
(0.071) (0.074) (0.073) (0.069) (0.073)
birth 0.000*** 0.000*** 0.000*** 0.000** 0.000*
(0.000) (0.000) (0.000) (0.000) (0.000)
marital_spouse_it 0.200*
(0.098)
hh_orig_home -0.156* -0.160* -0.148* -0.188** -0.170*
(0.082) (0.080) (0.080) (0.086) (0.087)
edu_no 0.271** 0.254* 0.284**
(0.124) (0.132) (0.124)
constant 0.454*
(0.268)
Region dummy: NorthAfr., AfricaSub. no yes no no no
Region dummy: East Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Sub India no yes yes no no
Italian speaker dummy no yes yes yes yes
Origin country dummy: all countries no no no yes no
Origin country dummy: all countries expt. DZ, EG, ER, ET, KE, LY, MA, MR, SO, SD, TN(1) no no no no yes
Operator dummies yes yes yes yes yes
Office dummies yes yes yes yes yes
R2 0.11 0.14 0.13 0.36 0.28
Dependent variable is obtainRP=1 if permit was obtained. Observations: 362. * p<0.1; ** p <0.05; *** p<0.01. Standard errors clustered at country-of-origin level in parenthesis. Variables "marital_spouse_it","edu_no"and constant term are omitted when non-significant. (1)Algeria (DZ), Egypt (EG), Eritrea (ER), Ethiopia (ET), Kenya (KE), Libya (LY), Morocco (MA), Mauritania (MR), Somalia (SO), Sudan (SD), Tunisia (TN).


Acknowledgements


This research was supported by a Marie Curie Intra European Fellowship within the 7th European Community Framework Programme. We are grateful to Laura De Carlo, Peppe Monetti, Giorgio Quaranta and Casa della Carità (Milano, Italy) for precious expertise provided throughout the data collection process. The usual disclaimer applies.

 

References


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dalla Pellegrina, L. Saraceno, M. Suardi, M. (Forthcoming), Migration policy: An assessment on the North Africa emergency provisions. Procedia Economics and Finance
Doornik, J. A., Hansen, H., 2008. An omnibus test for univariate and multivariate normality. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics 70, 927-939.
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