While many are fearful and alarmed by the phenomenon of undocumented migration, we do not generally know enough about the true economic and political outcomes of undocumented migration.

Stefano Zamagni, an economics professor at Bologna University with vast experience as a respected academic and adviser on migration will deliver the 2008 Benjamin Tonna lecture on 'The Political Economy of Undocumented Migration' at the Hotel Phoenicia, Floriana, on March 24 at 7 p.m. All are invited to attend.

Faced with questions such as 'Why are people migrating to Europe', 'What is the effect of undocumented migration?', or 'Should we welcome migrants?' Zamagni argues that we must firstly understand that migrants are often undocumented and criminalised by restrictive European visa and transport practices, which make it impossible for genuine refugees to reach a safe country through legal channels. In the absence of these legal channels, and with the help of human traffickers, refugees are forced into undocumented means of migration.

He holds that it is essential that undocumented migrants are allowed to regularise their status, and this is important also for the national authorities and for employers. Indeed it is clear that in many developed economies there are entire industries that rely on the work of undocumented migrants. In a situation where Europe is experiencing an aging and shrinking native-born population, it is clear that Malta is right to open up to the rich resource of migrants. For example, in Malta, migrants are invaluable in the catering, manufacturing and construction industries. It has been proven time and time again that migration is a positive sum game, a win-win situation, where the number of hosts and guests who gain outweighs the number who lose.

Migration implies certain painful adjustments from both parties involved but the USA and Australia are testimony to the positive and sustainable outcome of migration for both the host and guest society.

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