In the midst of the Coronavirus health emergency, the issue of immigration in Italy seems to have taken a back seat; nevertheless, migration flows have not stopped during the lockdown and, indeed, are registering high numbers.
At the end of July 2020, Italy is the first country in Europe in terms of the number of landings by sea, with a total of 14.382 arrivals, followed only by Spain and Greece. Between 1 January and 7 August 2019 there were 4.039 migrants landed in Italy, while in the same period in 2018 there were 18.890.
In 2020, more than 7.000 migrants arrived in Italy in July alone. 40% are of Tunisian nationality, 19% come from Bangaldesh and 15% from the Ivory Coast. Regarding the gender and age of the people landed, 79% of the people who arrived on Italian shores are male, women are 6%, minors 15% - currently there is a very high number of unaccompanied minors among the migrants landed in Italy in 2020: 1.747. In the whole of 2019 there were only 1.680, while in 2018 there were 3.500 (source: Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration).
What do Italians think about migrants?
In a research, PXR Italy conducted a sentiment analysis of Italians based on over 9,000 tweets to get an idea of how immigration is represented in Italy at the time of the Coronavirus.
The sentiment analysis was based on the semantic analysis of the most frequently used words in Italians' tweets in association with the word 'immigrants'. In particular, the results show that the most frequent expression was illegal immigrants, mentioned 516 times.
The second most used expression is positive immigrants and buy 269 times. This expression, which decontextualised may appear neutral, acquires a negative meaning as it is related to Covid-19.
Finally, the third most frequent expression is infected immigrants, which appeared 262 times. Also in this case reference is made to the Coronavirus and the word used takes on a negative tone. Overall, it can be said that twitter conversations about immigrants are mainly associated with the negative themes of illegality and Coronavirus infection.
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