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

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

Chiara Guccione