Merkel and Renzi are a winning combination for immigration

by Giuseppe Terranova - 2015.10.09
Merkel and Renzi are a winning combination for immigration
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EU states decided for the first time yesterday in Luxembourg that, to resolve the immigration crisis, “more Europe” is needed. This self-limitation of national sovereignty has a hint of revolution, broken down into three priorities: creating a European office for repatriation; establishing a special entity for controlling external borders; immediate creation of identification centres where a task force of national and European agents will record and distinguish refugees (to be received) from illegal immigrants (to be returned). These strategies are considered essential to prevent numbers of illegal immigrants growing, indistinguishable as they are from the asylum seekers to be redistributed from Italy and from Greece, according to agreed quotas set on 23 September.

To simplify, the rationale behind these initiatives is as follows: in the face of the worst refugee crisis since WW2, in order to honour the moral and legal obligation to receive people fleeing from certain death, we must first separate (at designated centres) those with legitimate asylum claims from those not entitled to asylum. Those granted asylum can then be redistributed throughout the 28 EU states, while the latter are repatriated. Because, as Paul Collier, a man who knows what he's talking about, says, “Everyone has the right to dream of Europe but we have a duty to provide shelter and protection only to those who seriously risk their lives at home.” It's a fair observation. But it raises two further problems that are maybe easier to understand if you take, for example, a country such as Germany.

Firstly, if Berlin fulfils its promise to take in 1 million Syrian and Eritrean refugees in 2015, it's clear that it will have to increasingly close its doors to false asylum seekers such as Kosovars, who are fleeing from poverty, not armed conflict. Sorry to say that today, more than ever, there is no room for the illegal migrant. The blanket of hospitality is too short. Details make a difference. Words have the weight of stones. The migrant that many good souls speak of does not exist. It's just a way to shuffle the cards, a sophisticated linguistic trick that, in insisting that “everyone is equal”, also wants “everyone in”. But it's not like that. The hard, cruel truth is that there are only refugees, legal immigrants and illegal immigrants.

Secondly, even a politically stable and economically healthy country, such as the one led by Angela Merkel, cannot afford the luxury of receiving refugees as we have done until now. It is time to let them to work. Maintaining them at the state's expense while banning them from looking for work, because “when the war ends they will go home” is suicide for us and for them. Not only because, on average, according to a study by the formidable Professor James C. Hathaway, a conflict on average lasts five to seven years and, when it's over, only 50% of refugees go home. But above all because, whether you're living in a UNHCR camp or in a block of flats on the outskirts of Berlin, there are dangerous side effects to having nothing to do except wait for a war to end so you can go home. Philip Collier tells us that it often ends with girls in prostitution and boys dedicated to the art of lawlessness or, at best, working on the black market. Their parents meanwhile fall into a deep depression, from which they can only recover once they have a symbolic object in their hands, such as the keys to the house to which they dream of returning.

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