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Undocumented Migrants and Invisible Welfare: Survival Practices in the Domestic Environment

Maurizio Ambrosini


In Italy, as in other countries, a significant number of migrants are employed as domestic workers, baby-sitters or carers of elderly people in Italian families (Parreñas 2001). Many of them begin as irregular migrants, but they manage to accede to a regular status: Italy is the EU country that has granted the highest number of regularizations, through six amnesties in 22 years, and other forms of hidden regularization. As employers, the families are the main actors in the regularization process. In many other situations, they are involved in hiring unregistered migrants and in managing the migrants’ underground work, especially that of women, as they welcome and accommodate them in their homes. This paper aims to explore the hidden world of the survival practices and social integration of undocumented migrants employed in Italian families, showing how most of them can obtain a regular status, after a period of hard work and a difficult life, turning it into a transient stage in the migrant’s career.


Illegal migration; domestic workers; regularisations; Italy

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