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THURSDAY, JULY 27, 2017 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS T he question is simple: what do I really think about immigration? The best way to tackle this matter – to many the matter of our modern age – is to think about it as a personal issue, at least for two reasons: first of all, thinking about it personally means we'll always have specific parameters or parallel situations against which evaluating the phenome- non. But immigration is a perso- nal issue to us all also because we've necessarily formed an opinion about it and it's on this opinion our final approach and attitude towards it is based. Do we see it as a problem, or an opportunity? Is it a transitio- nal phenomenon, or should we expect it to last? Is it a grief to overcome or a moment of cultu- ral and social rebirth? One thing is evident: immigration (and emigration) invests the idea of each and everyone's identity and, as such, it becomes a perso- nal matter for each individual. Am I going to feel like a "hyphe- nated American" for the rest of my life or am I really integrated within the socio-cultural fabric of my adoptive country? Will I embrace new habits and mores or will I keep on observing those which keep me irremediably tied to my previous life? Do I still feel part of my native country, or have I lost all connections with it)? Should I keep my double citizenship or let bureaucracy ran its course and, slowly but surely, allow it to erase my presence from lists and documents related to Italian citizens living abroad? Do I feel like one of the 80 million Italian "oriundi" in the world, or I no longer consider my personal dimension as an everlasting mediation between "old" Italian mentality and "new" American culture and society? Should I introduce my chil- dren and grandchildren to Italian culture and language? Should I buy Italian food, am I acting as an Italian or an Italian-American, how do I define my very own Italian or Italian-American essen- ce? There is more: beside all the economical, professional and familiar factors influencing, at times heavily, my choices and wishes, how do I define and eva- luate my relationship with Italy, with Italian people and their lan- guage? Finding answers to all these questions is far from simple, as they may in fact change throu- ghout time and situations; even less simple is facing a phenome- non, that of migration, that invol- ves 244 million people all over the world. Today more than ever, the phenomenon of migration touches the mind and identity of Italy, which went from being a country of migrants to receiving them on its own shores. A phe- nomenon, that of migration, that turns particularly dramatic during the summer, but that hasn't caused an uncontrolled increase of the country's foreign population, which remains stable at 6 million individuals. But immigration is a sensitive pheno- menon also in the US a country that, fundamentally, has migra- tion in its DNA and remains one of the most attractive destina- tions for migrants from all over the world and home to about 47 million foreign citizens. Both numbers and current affairs have recently made of migration a hot, at times uncomfortable topic to discuss, especially because of its power- ful socio-political connotations, often exasperated by media. Today, being Italian-American is beautiful or, at least, it's no lon- ger something to hide, as it used to be, for instance, during the Second World War. The stigma associated with Italians at the time of Dagoes or of The Godfather's have been largely substituted by the trendy "Made in Italy" label. Even Italy, in the end, has a different consideration of those who have emigrated and sought fortune somewhere else: today, you hear about the "brain drain," and how to avoid it, whereas in decades past, emigrants were abandoned to themselves, so to speak, remembered only and simply in the shortest paragraph of a high school history book. In recent years, a higher than ever production of statistical stu- dies, essays, special magazine issues and TV shows dedicated migration has made more clear what migrating means to an Italians and what they do abroad. It is essential to understand and be aware of this piece of Italian history, keeping in mind how emigration and the history of those who have emigrated is an historical phenomenon that belongs to us all. We must remember Italy, too, has been a country of emigrants, often mistreated when abroad, often poor and overworked. Forget about the strictly humanitarian aspects of the issue for a moment, and remember we Italian, too, have been immi- grants: this should made us all, if not welcoming, certainly tolerant and better at understanding of all those coming to our shores seeking for help. What do we think about our (personal) immigration history? BARBARA MINAFRA

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