Italy has been slow to apply lessons from its own experience of emigration to the potential benefit of its recently settled immigrant people who suffer multiple forms of social exclusion and have been subject to mounting acts of harassment and racism. Such a change may appear to threaten the Italian identity, but again a cooperative approach can allow for cultural growth. Yet politically, socially, and economically such change has not only been slow to take place but may have actually gone in reverse, as evidence shows that acceptance of immigrants and immigrant culture in Italy has seemed to decline over the years.
A series of hard-line measures abolished key forms of protection for migrants and make it easier for them to be deported. These measures can have a dramatic impact on the lives of tens of thousands already in the country. The ultimate aim is to have no refugees at all in Italy through a combination of efforts: closure of seaports, criminalising migrant rescue NGOs, enhancing collaboration with the coastguard and targeting those who are already in Italy, or who may come in future and not get any kind of protection. In a job market strongly segmented by gender, age, educational qualifications and population shortages with immigrants, problems are even worsened by a political system and a public opinion where xenophobic tendencies are widespread. Populism and xenophobia rarely lose votes, especially on the right.

Deep-seated racism is an issue given scant attention in Italy except in dramatic circumstances.
The legacy of fascism; the tangible insecurity, widespread economic misery for at least the last decade; are fertile ground for the nationalist and far-right forces to spread irrational fear of migrants. This has implications not only for the rights of migrants, but for the shape that politics will take in years to come. The most extreme of these leaders are trying to use the issue of migration to push a vision of the nation based on ethnic privilege and defined in opposition to racialised outsiders, be they Muslims, or unspecified dark-skinned “migrants”