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Legalizing immigrants in EU
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-09-15 07:46:19
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The latest news from the European Commission will most likely surprise everybody. Most likely it will also make the euro-sceptics totally freak out, especially after having spent the last two years talking and arguing about immigration in Europe and the security problems raised by illegal immigration. Of course as usual, before we start condemning the European Union, euro-sceptics must remember that the Commission hands out directives and blue prints. But regarding national security, it is up to each state to follow the directive as a whole, part of it or not at all.

Please read carefully the Commission’s announcement: ‘The European Commission has unveiled plans to allow more refugees from conflict zones and poor nations into European countries. The scheme is aimed at discouraging immigrants - mainly from Africa - from attempting to reach Europe illegally.’

The problem has always been the waves of illegal immigration. Actually it has nothing to do with the will of the states to accept those immigrants, but with the ways these immigrants enter the EU. Despite all speculations and conspiracy theories, the EU is true to its word and takes care of human rights. This is the part people don’t get most of the time. The real victims, actually the only victims of illegal immigration are the illegal immigrants themselves and nobody else. The rest get benefits from it.

I’m not going to say anything about the usual arguments, that immigrants steal jobs or commit crimes, because I find these arguments dangerously naïve, occasionally fascist, racist and prejudice. Nobody has taken anybody’s job; on the contrary immigrants take jobs the locals refuse to do. Immigrants have helped local economies because they were the only ones who circulated the money in the euro-zone, keeping inflation low. Again these are issues that have often been analyzed …in vain, I think, or perhaps in the wrong way. Because the truth is, most Europeans have no idea what immigration has done to Europe and how much it has helped the European economy.

What we usually see are boats piled with dirty and starving immigrants, stopped by police on the coasts of Italy, Malta or Greece. What we don’t see is that these immigrants are a very small part of all trafficking; as small as, or less than 10%. What more we don’t see is that these people have often paid huge amounts of money to come to the EU. When we talk about huge amounts of money, we sometimes talk about twenty to thirty thousands dollars, an amount that can represent the average yearly income for an EU citizen.

Most likely people believe that when these people arrive in an EU state, they run straight to the unemployment office to receive unemployment benefits, or steal the job a local person had dreamt of for a decade. Nothing could be further away from the truth.

The people responsible for human smuggling and trafficking have plans for these people; holding them or better blackmailing them and leading them into all kinds of slavery. Some of them even have small or big factories where these slaves become ‘workers’, literally for a plate of rice, working twelve to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. In Finland last year, the police arrested a restaurant owner who used illegal immigrants for all kinds of jobs; people who worked day and night, slept in the restaurant he owned and got paid absolutely nothing. The man constantly threatened the workers, said that the authorities would find out and that they would be sent back to their home country. Their country that was in civil war or people were starving, it was a country from which they had escaped in order to survive. The amazing thing was that the restaurant owner was their compatriot!

This was just one example. Stories like that used to make headlines, but nowadays they have become so common that they don’t even make it to the news’ boards anymore. And I’m not going to say much about women’s trafficking; women coming to Europe trying to escape the misery of their home country, willing to do any job and not calculating that with any job they will end up in a brothel and that’s if they’re lucky.

Children begging for money or cleaning car windows on big streets has become part of the everyday picture in most European big cities. What we don’t see, even though we all suspect it, is who really takes the money. It is not the kids, because even begging has turned into organized crime. These are just a few crimes happening over the shoulders of illegal immigrants.

Now just imagine what a difference it would make if these people were ‘legal’ and had the protection of the state. Imagine if their work was legitimate and they paid insurances and taxes. And then think about the ageing of Europe; the problems with pensions; the problems with the cost of life. Everything is in the same chain and everything acts like a domino effect.

This is what the EU Commission is trying to control, and if they succeed, the benefits for all of us are unbelievable, the main benefit being the saving of the European economy!


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Emanuel Paparella2009-09-15 10:47:20
Indeed, legalizing is the essential first step. It however needs to be followed by a policy of integration of the immigrants and not one of mere assimilation, for that is the central problem. It now remains to be seen if the individual countries of the EU, which remain sovereign regarding the protection of their borders and how they conceive such borders, will follow the recommendations of the European Commission. As mentioned in some detail in yesterday’s article, that are countries in the EU, especially those where right-wing parties-- like La Lega in Italy—operate, which conceive of borders as the defense of the economy of “fortress Europe.” As of now the Marone law in Italy criminalizes illegal aliens and provides for their speedy deportation, all this abetted by the vigilante “ronde” patrol squads which may be “legal” all right but they certainly do no great honor to the respect of inalienable human rights or even the civil rights as spelled out in the Treaty of Lisbon that one would expect in a democratic EU country, and are in fact reminiscent of another dark era of European history. One may counter that Italy is the exception that proves the rule, perhaps but I for one remain unconvinced by the exceptionalism of Italy, despite Berlusconi. More often than not, Italy is the mirror that reveals what remains ambiguous in the rest of the EU, for most illegal immigrants use Italy as a sort of passageway to the rest of Europe. The other countries resent that fact but have done precious little, so far, to legalize and integrate their immigrant population. Time will tell.

Emanuel Paparella2009-09-15 10:53:32
Errata: there are countries.

Vasilis2009-09-18 13:54:44
First time here and I must say I'm impreessed.

Very good article! Keep on the nice work.

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