Europe Grapples With Immigration Issue

algerians in parisThis summer, while the immigration debate broiled in the U.S., the government of France launched a countrywide crackdown on the Roma, an ethnic group with origins in South Asia or Eastern Europe, that drew criticism from both the United Nations and the Roman Catholic Church. And, in a “rare” move, the European Parliament called on France this week to suspend its expulsion of the Roma, accusing French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government of “targeting Roma as a group” and “ignoring essential European human rights guarantees.”

The total number of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma deported from France so far this year has reached 8,313. The French government has defended its actions by pointing out that the deportations are necessary to combat crime and that they have paid about €300 per expulsion.

However, courts in Lille have stated that many Roma deportation cases “did not meet the legal standard of a real and immediate threat.” A court in Nantes ordered the state to pay damages to the 29 Roma concerned. Critics have described the ramped up expulsions “as part of a drive by Sarkozy to revive his popularity before 2012 elections and divert attention from painful pension reforms and spending cuts.”

european migrationThe Roma represent the largest ethnic minority group in the European Union and, throughout history, they have been the target of persecution. The immigration debate in Europe is by no means limited to neither the Roma nor to France. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has praised France’s expulsion of Roma as a model to follow and accused the left of wanting an “invasion of foreigners.” MuslimAfrican, and Latin Americanimmigrants have also been common targets of European xenophobia.

All of this is despite the fact that the European continent’s population is aging so fast that it desperately “needs young newcomers to fill the gaps.” Nonetheless, a survey released this week by the Financial Times found that many Europeans have a negative view of immigration.

andrea nill

Andrea Christina Nill

Ultimately, during this modern era of globalization, almost every nation — including the U.S. — is grappling with the immigration issue in one way or another. But Europe’s harsh response to the influx of newcomers doesn’t diminish what is happening in Arizona, nor doesn’t make it okay. If anything, immigrant-receiving nations throughout the world are keeping a careful eye on the U.S. to see how the longtime “nation of immigrants” deals with the issue. And rather than adopting the marginalizing policies that have aggravated Europe’s immigration woes, the U.S. would be better off leading the way in building a humane immigration system that’s in tune with today’s modern global economy.

Andrea Christina Nill

Reposted with permission from The Wonk Room.


  1. SJ says

    …the U.S. would be better off leading the way in building a humane immigration system that’s in tune with today’s modern global economy

    It’s not “humane” to allow people who break the law and sneak into this country to jump ahead of others who are waiting on the immigration list.

    Today’s modern global economy is based on very few rich people and many, many very poor people. The US is a country where the middle class actually still has some political clout. It would be better to maintain our economic structure than to allow the destruction of our middle class until we mimic Mexico or India or other countries with extreme poverty. Pushing for massive increases in immigration degrades our middle class because most of those poor immigrants use more resources than they can provide. We’d do better by helping their countries solve their problems than opening the doors to take their poor into this country. In the end, that would be much more humane.

  2. CCGC says

    We need to be careful or bleeding heart liberals will enact immigration policies that turn the US into something more like India or Mexico or Pakistan or any of the other overpopulated countries that have an extreme disparity between the rich and the poor.  

    If you want to be humane and help the world’s poor, funneling them into this country is not the solution. It’s not humane to let the rich billionaires in Mexico continue to make money off the poor in that country and then force our US taxpayers to pay for the millions of poor Mexicans who need help. Instead of giving amnesty to illegal aliens and encouraging more of the world’s poor to sneak into our country to have babies and access our resources, we should try to encourage those countries to replicate our more balanced economic system with a strong middle class.  

    We are a nation of immigrants, and that is what has made us such a great nation. But to continue to encourage and give amnesty for illegal immigration is not fair to those immigrants who abided by the laws, nor is it fair to those who are still waiting to come here. And it does not solve the worlds problems to let the rich masters of overpopulated countries off the hook for the extreme economic hardship they’ve created for the poor in their countries.  

    Just like giving amnesty to illegal aliens, allowing massive increases in immigration would simply promote and encourage the continuation of unfairness throughout the world.

    That’s not humane, it’s stupid.

  3. hwood007 says

    Well the devil is always in the details. Mama told me not to complain about somethning unless I had a solution. You are correct that the non-Muslim population in Europe does not have a birth rate high enough to replace itself. What do you see as the solution for Europe and also for America?


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