Living in Rome
Salambo finds that Rome has a serious problem with immigrants. She has been helping her African baby-sitter Melina to become legal and finally get her work permit. The procedure has proved extremely lengthy, as four years after Salambo filed the application, Melina is still illegal. Her application however is still being processed in a maze of a system. Even Salambo has difficulties understanding its intricacies: registered letters do not reach destination, letters get lost in-between offices, rules change depending on the official one talks to, and so on. The other day, Salambo received a later from the social security office asking her to pay the social contributions for her baby-sitter. In other words, before Melina is even untitled to legally work, she’ll have to pay social contributions as if she had entered a standard work contract. This time, she was asked to pay 630 euros, in addition to the 500 euros already paid six months previously to file a new application, so in total 1,130 euros before officially working. The Italian press is very clear about it: it is a way for the government to raise funds. They have calculated that more than 100,000 applications were presented (that’s what Salambo remembers reading, she would actually need to check the figure). In any case, we’re talking about more than 100 million euros in the State’s coffers. To clarify: the government issued an amnesty law in the summer of 2009, which stipulated that all illegal workers who already had a job working as family help, would be legalised, provided their employer filed a relatively simple form and paid 500 euros (supposedly representing social contributions for the three previous months!!). That came after one application still pending and another one before rejected, so Melina is pretty desperate this time to finally become “a person”.