Migration policies in recent years have turned to growing restrictions and tighter controls in most countries, not only at national level but often also at local level. But several actors from civil society have tried to counteract this trend, protesting, organizing advocacy actions, providing services and promoting networks. Italy is a case in point: from the beginning of the arrival of immigration flows in the ’80, the reception of the newcomers and the defense of their rights has been provided mainly by non-public actors: trade unions, voluntary associations, social movements, catholic institutions. In the last decade, Italian immigration policies have hardened, above all in the period 2008-2011, with the advent of a securitarian political discourse under the last Berlusconi government. Many civil society organizations struggled against these policies. The article will present two case studies: 1) the Association "Avvocati per niente", that defends the immigrants on a legal ground against local policies of exclusion; 2) Naga and Osf, two Associations engaged in health care for irregular immigrants in Milan. The articles explore motivations, discourses, strategies, alliances and outcomes of their action and introduces a typology of the main forms of their action.
Keywords: Migration policies; civil society; irregular immigration; advocacy; health care; Italy; NGOs.