Towns of migrants: mayors speak out on why their communities don’t do integration well

Mayors says complaints and concerns raised by their residents might be fundamental to the negative public perception of immigrants.

Four out of five mayors interviewed by MaltaToday admit integrating immigrants within their communities is problematic.

The mayors of Marsa, Birzebbugia, Safi and Fgura stated there is little that can be done, and attempts at integration - for one reason or another - were usually unsuccessful.

"For our part, we even tried to apply for EU funds in collaboration with NGOs. The aim was to give basic training to help the immigrant when seeking employment, including learning the Maltese language. But at the final stage, the relevant NGOs which were on-board hindered the application and nothing was done," Fgura Mayor Byron Camilleri said. Nevertheless, he remarked that several youths were successfully integrated through the Fgura United FC structure.

Referring to the situation of his locality, Safi Mayor Francis Callus said the majority of the immigrants there were in detention and thus nothing could be done. However, he added that for the small numbers living in the community, there are no funds available for integration initiatives.

The local councils of Marsa and Birzebbugia, two localities that host significant numbers of migrants in their open detention centres, said the public perception about irregular immigration made integration impossible. "The Maltese have not yet embraced the concept of integration," Marsa mayor Frans Debono noted.

Balzan seems to be one of the few localities where the integration of refugees is a success. Mayor John Zammit Montebello said that unlike the other localities, refugees in this town do not come as individuals but as families. "This may have facilitated the integration of around 300 immigrants who live in Balzan," he said.

He added that while a small minority of residents remain xenophobic, "Balzan residents live peacefully with refugees and participate in intercultural events organised by the same council to facilitate further integration."

When speaking to MaltaToday, the mayors pointed out that continuous complaints and concerns raised by the residents might be fundamental to the negative public perception of immigrants. These concerns generally revolve around security and sanitary issues.

"I'm aware that in particular areas, a number of the immigrants intimidate all the young females that pass in the area. There were even reports of immigrants chasing girls. Apart from this, we don't have an adequate resource of police officers to address these complaints," the Birzebbugia mayor said.

He also mentioned reports of immigrants urinating on doorsteps and refusing to use the facilities provided nearby. "This is not acceptable in my locality!" he added.

Frans Debono mentioned other concerns raised by Marsa residents: "Shops run by immigrants are now cropping up in Marsa. Do sanitary officials visit these shops? Furthermore, we are now noticing a larger number of immigrants driving. Do they have the relevant legal driving licence? These are issues that need to be addressed."

All five mayors agreed that immigrants in their locality did not affect employment opportunities for the Maltese. "They are taking the work which no Maltese want to do. It is also true that immigrants have no choice and are willing to work for less pay than a Maltese would receive," they said.


eleonoray86cws Ca?uana
@Avukat Let's say your numbers are correct. Are you saying that if you share the opinion of 10% of the population makes you a traitor? Where are you coming from, Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia?
The vast majority of MAltese citizens, more than 90% do not want any illegal immigrants in Malta and consider those who strive to integrate them in MAltese society as traitors of the Maltese people.
In addition to previous posts, may I kindly ask the editor of Malta Today, if this paper has any intention, in the near future, to organise, as a journalistic democratic exercise, a survey on the matter - which has some importance, I am sure the editor will agree....I believe that the editor will also agree that what the population feels should have some bearing on the administration of this country. If not, why should we declare a solemn belief in democracy at all!
I hope that the Maltese have a right to express what they think about events in their own country, as sometimes I wonder whether what we think is important at all. We have been hearing what foreigners think about immigration in Malta [not immigration in their country mind you!!]. They are even ready to pounce on us if we dare express an opinion about what we wish in our own country. And here we go again: are Maltese town and village residents being asked what they think and how they feel about illegal immigrants' integration in their places of residence? Or is this just an unimportant, irrelevant matter? Perhaps the Maltese voters should shut up where it concerns what happens in their homes and streets? Sure, who cares? The Maltese have no opinion, no intelligence. Just cwiec Maltin!
Could this be the reason why working class people are more likely to be xenophobic? Those of us living in comfortable houses in Sliema, St Julians and Swieqi easily forget this.
Contrary to what this newspaper has been trying to portray all along, it is the weakest of the Maltese population that suffers most from illegal emigrants. They are being employed at such low prices that it is obvious that the poor Maltese worker cannot accept these miserable prices . The real reason is NOT that the Maltese do not want to do the work the immigrants are doing, but they want a decent low wage. The persons that are doing well are those employing the immigrants at low wages to the detriment of the Maltese workers.