The Benefit of Illegal Immigration: Immigration of Tunisians to Europe

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  • Abstract
  • Immigration of Tunisians to Europe
  • References


This paper reviews the immigration of Tunisians to European countries. To have a better understanding on the topic, it was divided into two major parts: the causes of immigration and its consequences for the immigrants and the impact of such phenomenon on the mother country as well as the receiving country.

The first segment explains why Tunisians would risk their lives to go to a complete unknown world and shows if the rumors about immigrants being exploited are true. It also highlights what kind of jobs these immigrants work and the difficulties they face in order to have a better life and tries to give solutions to minimize this illegal migration. The second segment seeks showing the impact of this immigration on European countries and on Tunisia’s economy. It allows us to see that, as much as it has negative impacts, it also has positive effect on the economy

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Immigration of Tunisians to Europe

Our modern world is facing a new kind of challenge these days which is the lack of job opportunities. In fact, the technological advances created drastic change in the world, where automation took over, and workers found themselves laid off overnight. Add to that the unprecedented expansion of world population; you would end up with a worldwide scarcity of employment.

Tunisia is no exception. In fact, the country suffers from a lot more than “lack of jobs”. That’s why many young people (and few middle aged Tunisians) tend to leave the country illegally (since legal migration would cost a fortune, and having a visa is next to impossible) hoping to have a better life in their new destination which, most of the time, is Europe. These illegal immigrants are contributing to the Black Economy, since they would probably turn to undeclared work because they don’t have any legal papers. This would affect the economy of the host country as well as Europe as a whole.

To have a better understanding of the phenomenon, we decided to divide the topic into many parts in order to address one part at a time and thus have a much better conception of the problem. Let us begin with figuring out what motivates the Tunisian citizen to leave his home and country. According to Torelli (2017), the primary cause for this illegal Immigration is the deepening socio-economic and political challenges that Tunisia faces. Torelli, S. M. (2017, November 10). The people have noticed that the country is having many difficulties. The unemployment rate is growing faster than ever reaching more that 15% which is a very big problem for the younger generation, especially amongst university graduates. Nowadays, a mere degree in engineering or in computer science has become insufficient to land a job, and the competition in the job market is at its peak.

Also, the massive fall of the Dinar “devalued by more than 25% during the last year” Torelli, S. M. (2017, November 10) is a huge difficulty which has caused an enormous inflation in Tunisia. Almost everything has become more expensive and many families can no longer afford a decent life. The political instability and the relative lack of protection and the sense of safety are not to be underestimated. Many leave the country because they feel like they are oppressed by the government. I mean we all know that the police in our country do what they want. They threaten, harass and even kill if they feel so. They use their powers to plunder the poor and that leads to many brawls between the police and the people leaving in the hood mainly.

Having conditions like that and with the return of the corruption invading almost every field, Tunisian youth have lost faith and confidence in the system. That’s why they tend to flee to Europe, in search for a better life, with one thing in mind: the “European Dream”. The solution given by Torelli is that EU countries should support Tunisia by investing more on it in order to develop the rural areas that, up until now, still suffer from the lack of basic services like water, electricity, roads and hospitals. And thus, the mission of the Tunisian government gets clearer: it has to provide a proper infrastructure to attract more investors.

He also mentioned creating a law of asylum which “is one of the most urgent measures that Tunis should undertake in order to better coordinate its efforts with European partners.” Torelli, S. M. (2017, November 10). Besides, Tunisia should encourage its citizens to stay by providing more job opportunities to them and lower the prices of some essential foods like eggs and sugar. The government must also fight corruption and control police officers by reprimanding any transgressions. By doing such things, the faith in the government will be restored and people would think twice before leaving their country.

Also, Tunisia and European countries should create more legal avenues of migration to minimize if not end illegal immigration. After all, if Tunisians could migrate legally, why would they take such risks and put themselves in danger. Swing, W. L. (2015, July 22). Receiving countries would also benefit from this, they would have total information about their habitants and the criminal rate will reduce massively.

After doing more detailed research about these immigrants and what are they doing in there to gain money and live, it turned out that most of them (if not all) turn to undeclared work which is illegal. That’s why I asked myself: why would they risk their lives working these kinds of jobs instead of working some normal regular jobs?

Reyneri said that “unauthorized migrants cause an oversupply of labor and are able to find only marginal jobs in the underground economy” Reyneri, E. (2003, February 18). With this oversupply, illegal migrants would be ignored most of the time because there is an excess of workers and the receiving country can’t take care of all of them.

Host countries, which initially do not need these migrants at all, already need to look for work for their local residents and the legal migrants they have approved of. Also, Emilio (2003) said that immigrants are in competition with marginal sections of the domestic labor force (young dropouts, uneducated women, elderly people…) and that got them into bad situations that usually end up with a fight. That’s why turning to riskier illegal jobs would be much easier for them.

The fact that they don’t have any legal papers doesn’t help. Not to forget the fact that most of them don’t have a degree that could facilitate the procedure of finding legal work. The lack of skill and education and the illegal situation of these immigrants have reduced their chances of finding a job the orthodox way.

When I lived in Germany, I noticed that many illegal immigrants are willing to do any type of work without complaining (store, restaurant, industry…) in order to afford a decent life. If fact, many of these “part time jobs” do not require specific documentations, and would be considered a win for both the worker and the employee (immigrant workers are charged less that local besides, they do not have social security) yet, many end up being turned down and find themselves doing all sorts of illegal crafts in order to stay alive (drug and arms smuggling; prostitution; human trafficking; …). I also noticed that looks matter a lot but I never understood that because I genuinely think that appearances are deceptive.

I recall one time, when having a coffee with a friend, he told me that after immigrating to Italy and putting his life at stake, he had spent days without food and water, he looked everywhere of a job but in vain. He knew that if he turned himself to the police he would be deported back to Tunisia, and so, he had no other choice than to sell drugs. It was a difficult decision to make. Going back to Tunisia was out of the question. Now, he lives in fear of getting caught by the police.

We talked about his other friends who also took the same boat and went on the same adventure. One of them works on a construction site. He is paid poorly, and he doesn’t even have a social security. He doesn’t have the right to medical care. Another one met some young Italian girl and got married, and then he went back to university to finish his studies.

It is evident that it is easier for immigrants to make money from these kinds of jobs (drugs and arms smuggling) because “controls by police are infrequent and, even when caught, unauthorized migrants are rarely deported” Reyneri, E (2003, February 18). And of course after spending some time in these countries, you end up having a resident permit if you are lucky enough: EU countries give only few permits for these illegal immigrants. And so, it is just a matter of time for them to become legal migrants since each one of them thinks that he would be the lucky one that’s why they work illegally to get money in order to be able to live until having this permit and then turn to normal jobs. At least that’s what they think. And this way of thinking made it easy for the mafias to recruit them.

Another problem for these immigrants is that, when working these hard, stressful and risky jobs, these immigrants are being exploited in a big way. While working with criminals (the case of not finding a job so turning to drug dealing is the substitute), these gangs use the illegal immigrants to do their dirty work for them and that’s a high risk to take especially that they don’t get paid high enough (most of the money goes of course to these groups) but they do it anyways because they have no choice and these criminals promised to give them a broad range of facilitation services in exchange. Facilitation of Illegal Immigration. (n.d.).

So basically, These gangsters lied to the illegal immigrants and told them that they would become madly rich and change their way of living if they join them and work with them, but the sad truth is that they are basically using their desperation and their want to have a better live to exploit them and in the end, these immigrants end up either dead or in prison.

Beside from that, when even working normal jobs in industries, shops or some similar places, they also end up being exploited. They are working dangerous, dirty and degrading jobs and are being paid less than the minimum wage. Sometimes, they even work more than their actual schedule without being paid of course.

Lawrence (2015) said that exploitation became a way of life in Europe and she gave many examples of immigrants being exploited in many fields of work because it’s known over there that immigrants carry out underpaid, dangerous and degrading jobs. Lawrence, F. (2015, August 17). She gave an example of some Portuguese working around Norfolk town of Thetford who were intimidated and paid less simply because they were migrants. Their bosses preferred taking on people who work illegally to exploit them more.

There is also the example of the Lithuanian immigrants who were being severely abused and exploited while working. They work 12 hours per day, sometimes they don’t get paid and aer assaulted several times. Their conditions were unbearable but they work anyways because they have no other source of income. It was a living hell for them. Lawrence, F. (2015, August 17).

This issue (illegal immigration) has also affected both Tunisian and European economy in a big way. Starting with the European, migration increases poverty and death rates since the rate of crimes will also increase. Ayres, C. (2015, November 06). Also, the immigrants contribute to the black economy which is the part of the economy that is not unrecorded and untaxed by the government. Amadeo, K. (2019, March 04). This shadow economy makes governments loses revenue and creates shortages in legal goods to force people to purchase from them.

Beside from that, Immigrants do take job opportunities from citizens and create competition with them. This could turn to a serious issue when citizens feel like they are being replaced and then they would act badly and demand the deportation of the immigrants.

As much as it is bad for the economy, it also has many good effects. “The shadow economy is worth 16% of EU’s GDP“ Choe, J. (2007, July 09) and since it provides many jobs and makes it easy for low income people to have access to basic goods, medicine and many other things, it is beneficial for EU countries.

Added to that, immigrants are perfect substitutes for locals since they get paid a lot less than these native. And with that, they will lower the wages and increase the size of the labor force (”Friedberg & Hunt said in 1995 that most empirical analysis of the United States and other countries find that a 10 percent increase in the fraction of immigrants in the population reduces native wages by at most 1 percent”). Also, these migrants will fill jobs that locals do not seek or want which is a good thing for European governments. Ayres, C. (2015, November 06).

This migration will also give European countries access to a huge number of skilled humans and will open them to many cultures and traditions. This helps them in many fields (music, sports…). France in 2018 won the World Cup with 14 of its 23 players coming from Africa. These skilled players were a key for France’s victory. EU countries really want to reject these immigrants but they can’t because they lack workers and these immigrants are irreplaceable for the moment. Choe, J. (2007, July 09).

For the Tunisia’s economy, it loses its skilled labor (graduated Tunisians). Added to that, when the youth leave, the demand for many goods and services will fall hugely because the market will be smaller and the buyers will decrease. For the advantages, it is safe to say that these immigrants will benefit the country with the foreign currency because a lot of them will send money to their family in order to improve their life. Also, Tunisians will find a job easier because less pressure is created when the youth migrate. Added to that, it is safe to say that most of the immigrants have some previous criminal records. And with them migrating, crime will decrease and the country will become safer.

Illegal immigration, as hard and dangerous as it is, is essential for many Tunisians even that they know that they may end up dead or in prison because they believe that they would have a better life in Europe. EU countries and the Tunisian government should work together to limit this phenomenon especially that it contributes to the black economy.


  1. Amadeo, K. (2019, March 04). The Black Economy and Its Impact. Retrieved from
  2. Ayres, C. (2015, November 06). 5 Serious Pros and Cons of Immigration Reform. Retrieved from
  3. Choe, J. (2007, July 09). African Migration to Europe. Retrieved from
  4. Emilio Reyneri. (2003, February 18). Illegal immigration and the underground economy. Retrieved from
  5. Facilitation of Illegal Immigration. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  6. Friedberg, R. M., & Hunt, J. (1995). The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth.Journal of Economic Perspectives,9(2), 23-44. doi:10.1257/jep.9.2.23
  7. Lawrence, F. (2015, August 17). The exploitation of migrants has become our way of life. Retrieved from
  8. Speciale, B. (2010). Immigration policies in the EU : Challenges and priorities.Reflets Et Perspectives De La Vie économique,XLIX(2), 3rd ser., 121-135. doi:10.3917/rpve.492.0121
  9. Swing, W. L. (2015, July 22). 3 ways governments can solve migration crises. Retrieved from
  10. The impact of Migration on the home country. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  11. Torelli, S. M. (2017, November 10). Escaping from Tunisia. Retrieved from

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