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Failing Immigration Policies

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Both the United States and EU have decided to tighten their already strict immigration laws. The measures to tackle illegal immigration introduced in the new immigration bill in the United States in many ways resembles the flaws already made in European Union.

The new bill includes the use of force by troops and police to stop immigrants from entering the United States. There are also plans to build a 700-mile fence on the Mexican border. All these measures have already been tried in EU with results of death and misery.

Last autumn, Europeans were shocked with news about African immigrants being killed in Spanish enclaves in Morocco while trying to reach European soil. Later, the Moroccan government expelled these migrants to the Sahara desert without food or water. Since December, these mostly Sub-Saharan African immigrants have changed their departure point from Morocco to Mauritania after the EU pressured Morocco to tighten its border control. The Red Cross estimates that more than 1,000 people have died since the beginning of this year trying to enter “Fortress Europe”.

The United States is still the ultimate honey-pot that immigrants from below the border want to reach, but many, especially Africans without contacts in the States, start their new lives in Europe. Escaping poverty, hunger, wars, political persecution, and unemployment, these immigrants try to reach “the land of milk and honey”. Unfortunately Europe doesn’t seem to stand up for its reputation. During last autumn’s riots in France, a young Frenchman said: “When you’re an immigrant here, you’re just stuck in your shit. Does it really surprise you it’s going up in flames?”

The other similarity I find in immigration policies of both the U.S. and EU is the hypocrisy; even though western nations are dependent on immigrant labour to do jobs westerners don’t want or simply filling the void in the labour market, politicians refuse to grant them any benefits enjoyed by the legal workforce. The naturalisation of immigrants’ status would benefit both sides. The government would know who’s living within its borders and could collect tax revenues; the immigrants would be granted a safer work environment and at least the minimum wage.

If you’re well educated and already well off, you’re welcomed in Europe. To others, Europe would rather say “bye, bye”. Tony Blair seemed to be one step ahead of Bush, when announcing the UK’s new immigration policy, which will put educated people at the top of the list when granting citizenship. Uneducated labor is welcomed only as long as their work contracts in the UK are valid. This seems to be the idea of European immigration policy in general. Europe wants all the benefits of immigration without the responsibilities.

The same policy favouring educated people actually increases the total flow of immigrants. The brain drain from sub-Saharan Africa is already at an alarming level. As mentioned in an article of Al-Ahram “…In Ghana, it was recently revealed that more than 200 nurses, trained at the taxpayers’ expense, left the country in the first two weeks of 2003….” Just a few days ago, Brian Everett, assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) in Britain, told IPS that “…The consequences are, put simply, that the losing nations do not have the skill base to educate their young people and develop their own economies…”

European politicians are currently not addressing the core problem leading to mass immigration. They are actually making things worse by undermining development in the global south. The ideal situation for everyone would be to work and live in one’s homeland. To put fences and military in the way of desperate people is useless, cruel, and short-sighted.

The same article in the weekly Al-Ahram described the thinking of European politicians in 2003:

“…The European leaders in Thessaloniki contemplated deporting illegal immigrants to transit camps outside Europe. Italy’s extreme right-wing Northern League leader, Umberto Bossi, even had the audacity to suggest that the Italian navy use cannons to prevent African migrants from reaching Italian shores…”

This may sound like a cruel joke, but unfortunately it’s not far from what is already happening at the EU borders.

The EU has placed border fences both on its borders and within the EU. Refugees and immigrants are welcomed to Europe by placing them into detaining centers or foreigner camps (.pdf), often similar in conditions to prisons. Because of the bad image this creates for Europe, the EU has started subcontracting this practice (.pdf) to North-African countries like Libya.

To make matters even worse, several countries, including Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland, have deported unwanted immigrants with deadly force. During last autumn’s immigrant conflict in Spain-Morocco border Amnesty International said:

“…The evidence we saw showed that law enforcement officers used force which is both unlawful and disproportionate, including lethal weapons. They injured and killed people trying to cross the fence. Many of those seriously injured inside Spanish territory were pushed back through fence doors without any legal formality or medical assistance…”

The director of Amnesty International’s EU office Dick Oosting added,

“…The present dire situation in North Africa, where people trying to gain entry to EU territory are reportedly being shot dead, or even dumped in the desert without food or water, relates directly to pressure exerted by EU countries to strengthen fortress Europe…
…Shamefully, EU Member States are shifting the burden of refugee protection to other countries which may be ill-equipped to deal with the ever increasing numbers of displaced people. In the process, international commitments to humane treatment and the principle of ‘non-refoulement’ are being violated. The overall effect is not only to strain the EU’s own credibility, but to threaten the very integrity of the international refugee protection system…”

The right way to solve immigration problems is by fixing the causes of this desperate immigration. Instead of building fences between people, politicians should put more effort into fighting poverty and reaching the Millennium Goals of The United Nations.

Xenophobia is on the rise in Europe with politicians leading the way.

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About Sampsa

  • Thank you my friends for a great conversation,
    until the next article…(Nancy let me know when you post, so I can join for a debate 🙂 )

    Peace be on you !


  • Nancy

    I have to agree, I’ve seen various articles & documentaries on those microloans, and they (the loans) are a dynamite idea. That’s the kind of thinking outside the box stuff we all need to do in order to help poorer nations enrich themselves. Tourism would be a big draw if some of these damned ‘rebels’ & what-have-you would just can the violence. Ditto religious fanatics in places like Afghanistan. People would come & spend their money in droves if the stupid governments would be more welcoming & less dogmatic.

  • ss

    Sampsa, I don’t want to claim I’m an expert, I’ve seen a couple of good documentaries on microloans though. I believe they were started by an Indian billionaire and philanthropist (I wish I could remember the man’s name, and forget bin Laden’s) and India still has the most microloan programs, though they are spreading. Israel has one for Palestinian women living in Israel, there’s a really good documentary showing the challenges and problems of these programs once the businesses actually start to turn a profit based on the Isaeli program. As you mentioned they’re popular in northwestern Africa, also the Phillipines and there are a few in South America.
    Again, I don’t mean to claim this will solve all immigration problems, but they seem to be really productive programs that would help prime alot of countries so if they do get some decent leadership, that leadership will have a population that’s ready to make the most of foriegn aid. And that seems like the best solution to immigration/wealth imbalance problems we’re going to get.
    Definitley better than Fortress Europe/Fortress America, IMHO.

  • Nancy, you’re right on point with the corruption issue and the Swiss bank accounts, eventhough I wouldn’t be so sure with that “pouring of billions into Africa” part. I wonder what’s the balance between African countries paying their depths over and over again because of the interests and development and aid money. I’m afraid it’s on the negative side for Africa. Without going further back in history, that is.

    I hope there aren’t children out there who will let their parents die.

    Thanks Nancy for commenting…

    SS, like you mentioned microloans have proved to be a very effective way to get people back on their feet. Good way to avoid giving things like tools for free just for people to neglect and misuse them to get yet another set for free.

    I was involved with a small scale development cooperation working in northern-Ghana where local women groups found microloans very helpful. By the way, I’ve a travelogue of my trip to Ghana in my homepage (linked in my blog), nice country.

    I believe microloans are quite common in South-Asia?

  • ss

    Microloan programs have had decent success in stimulating local business development in developing countries. These programs usually ‘go around’ corrupt leadership by offering very low interest loans directly to would be entrepenaurs (entrepenaurs? me spell pretty english one day) in the poorer parts of developing countries. They’re not handouts in the sense that the money is not given away (the loans are to be paid back), but they’re also not for profit, and the seed money to get them started usually has to come from wealthy philanthropists or well off governments.
    It just addresses one part of a very compex problem, but these programs should be radically expanded immediately.

  • Nancy

    Not to mention corruption. Look how many billions have been poured into Africa, only to end up in the private Swiss bank accounts of these tinhorn African warlords/”presidents” like that slimeball Mugabe. However, I contest that large families are a means of support for anyone in this days’ world: kids no longer support aged parents, especially if they’re struggling to support themselves & THEIR horde of kids. So much for that fallacy. Poor countries need to get strict about birth rates – and so do the rich ones, for that matter. High birth rates invariably mean poverty, when too many kids have to share too few resources available to the parents, and especially where the country itself has no resources because over the centuries its squandered them, drained by a huge surplus population, altho probably more by wasteful, greedy politicians & rulers.

  • Nancy, there are couple of “buts” regarding your suggestions.

    Firstly, poor countries lacking tax revenues can’t come up with free tuition, nor can they offer social security or pentions. People earning one dollar a day or less can’t save, or even dream of pention funds. Large families are the only security net that people have. When going gets from tuff to miserable, people with large families have it better. When parents get to “pention age” their children will take care of them.

    Secondly, one should be conscious not to generalise these facts, myself included. Every country has a unique situation with unique ways to solve it. For example Afganistan or Tanzania hardly have too big populations but are still struggling with poverty. Poor governance, trade barriers, war, HIV… Very complicated issues in this development bussines.

  • Nancy

    Yah, but those not agreeing w/Althenios call HIM a leftist lunatic, so I guess it’s a draw. Besides, he’s at work just now, so can’t respond.

  • Arch Conservative

    Just a warning to all BC psoters….. if you do not agree with Althenios regarding the subject of immigration he will call you an “ignorant racist”.

  • Nancy

    I should think most people would prefer to stay at home & earn a decent living there among family & friends if they could, than to migrate elsewhere. There are the few who do like to travel on a permanent basis, but most humans are homebodies. I think improving conditions in every country would be preferable to only having good conditions in a few, w/everyone trying to squeeze in to those few. I also think it would be a good thing to restrict breeding at the same time. I don’t think going as far as the Chinese have done (forcible abortion, etc.) is a good thing, but maybe financial incentives to people NOT to have kids – a tax on every kid over #2, for example, coupled with free tuition for families that limit themselves to 1 or 2 kids. People who insist on having more kids having to take classes on overpopulation & reproductive health.

  • Nancy, if I understood you correctly, you’d prefer improving conditions in the countries of origin, by helping people to help themselves through better educational possibilities and in this way make immigration obsolete.

    March on!

  • Nancy

    Realistically, no one anywhere in any country wants an influx of the ignorant & uneducated (& therefore overwhelmingly poor, usually) if they can have the educated & intelligent. I don’t care where they’re from: I don’t want Andy Capp (a lazy, idiotic, alcoholic English loser stereotype) any more than I want some criminally-inclined fugitive Afghan peasant who can only ‘read’ the Qu’ran or some ignoramus who’s as illiterate in Spanish as he is in English. It’s a tragic fact that those lowest on the intellectual & educational ladder are those that breed the fastest & the most. I think we would all be better off, whether in China or Chevy Chase, if reproduction was restricted somehow, to those who at least could prove they aren’t the Marching Morons.

  • Thanks for your opinions guys.

    Hi RedTard, I’m quite sure the article didn’t mention anything about EU and the U.S. being responsible for solving all the world’s problems or making welfare payments to corrupt countries. Correct me if I’m wrong. Blackmail, Hmm, you could tell us more about this conspiracy theory of yours.

    Richard Brodie, I’m afraid you missed my point:

    “The ideal situation for everyone would be to work and live in one’s homeland.”

    The whole immigration tragedy could be avoided if politians would do something about the causes of this problem. I’m sure you wasn’t serious, suggesting that the West should be afraid of trying to find right sollutions to solve this difficult issue.

    Be warned… The tomatoe you just ate was picked up by one of the people who is out to destroy you. Scary stuff, isn’t it?

  • How many billions of “desperate people” are there in the Southern world? Why should only those who are within walking distance of the EU or the US get to escape from their poor corrupt socialist homelands? Why stop at advocating that the prosperous and still somewhat capitalistic North should welcome all of these millions in? Why not advocate an outreach program, whereby the more remote billions are provided with transportation to Europe and America? Isn’t it just as cruel to leave THEM out in the cold, without the opportuinity to collect Northern welfare, as it is to turn away those who happen to be lucky enough to be located near the gates?

    THANK GOD the Europeans and the Americans are finally starting to wake up and realize that they will be DESTROYED, and the WHOLE WORLD turned into one big socialist hell-hole of a planet, if we don’t do what our ancestors of 600 years ago had the courage and good sense to do at the gates of Vienna, and turn back the invading hordes.

  • RedTard

    So unless the US or EU transfers welfare payments to corrupt third world countries they’ll continue to pump out poor hungry mouths and dump them on our shores to take care of. Blackmail if I ever heard it. Par for the course for a new world order socialist.

  • RedTard

    Ah, put the responsibility on the EU and US to solve everyone’s problems. The white man’s burden I guess. Is that the only answer anyone ever has to the world’s problems?

  • Bliffle

    Maybe Edward Abbey had the right solution: “Meet the Mexcian fugitives at the border and equip each one with a gun and a map to Mexico City and tell them: ‘Go'”