Undocumented Asylum Seekers and the Italian State
By examining the case of Milan, the paper studies the way the Italian state, in the last four years, has been managing homeless asylum seekers and refugees. It focuses on the frictions among different state institutions and the managerial ‘cultures’ they rely on. As expulsions from the so-called reception system have been raising, the Milanese municipality-run reception centres closed, and a reorganisation of the Immigration Office brought to the shutdown of a department explicitly oriented to asylum and reception. The analysis makes some dilemmas arise. The first one is related to the way policies interact and collide at different levels. As centralisation and decentralisation are constitutive of every process of state formation, in the case presented here it paradoxically brings asylum seekers outside the reception system to disappear as such. The second dilemma lies at the moral core of the state and raises issues of entitlement to receive aid from public and private institutions. As asylum seekers and refugees are perceived as unwelcomed guests by both the central state and the local authorities, institutions consider themselves not responsible for their care.
Keywords: Milan • The state • Humanitarianism • Homelessness • Asylum seekers