There is no iron law that says people must be irrevocably hostile to immigration. Many have become so because of the way that the issue has been framed by politicians on all sides. That framing has made immigration into a symbol of unacceptable change. On the one hand, politicians have recognised a need for immigration. On the other, they have promoted the idea of immigration as a social problem that must be dealt with. At the same time, politicians often express disdain for those who express anxieties and fears about immigration, anxieties and fears that politicians often present as mere bigotry evernote and racism. This poisonous mixture of necessity, fear and contempt has helped both to stigmatise migrants and create popular hostility towards the liberal elite for ignoring their views on immigration. The contradictory needs and desires have also resulted in an incoherent, unworkable set of policies that have, paradoxically, been exacerbated by the development of free-movement policies within the.
But they have left us defenceless and alone. The result, he observes, is kindness has turned to anger and where there is anger there is room for all sorts of extremism. Earlier this year, irate locals, led by far-right anti-immigrant activists, attacked Afghans in the central square of the capital, mytilene, as they camped out in protest against their enforced confinement on the island. Some screamed, burn them alive as they set upon the migrants, including children, with burning dustbins and flares. Galinos suggests that the chaos in the camps is deliberate policy on the part of Athens and Brussels a message to other potential migrants. The bigger the mess in Greece, the harsher the conditions, the greater the deterrent for other refugees and migrants who see the country as a route into the. How deliberate the chaos is is difficult to know, but trunk the consequences are clear. If eu politicians want to know why hostility to immigration has grown, or why many have turned to the far right, or why people who once welcomed migrants now try to burn them alive, they only have to look to the impact of their own.
These two experiences, in Britain and in Greece, reveal two aspects of public attitudes to immigration that are often ignored. The first, as seen in Britain, is that while the public may be hostile to immigration in the abstract, it is frequently supportive of people and groups who are seen as having become unfair victims of the process. Public opinion is commonly set not by ideology but by perceptions of fairness. The second aspect of public attitudes, as seen in Greece, is how the understanding of unfairness is shaped by the policies enacted by mainstream institutions. At the start of migrant crisis, Greek opinion was certainly divided over the question of immigration. There was support for the far right. But there was also much greater sympathy with the plight of the migrants and a willingness to help them practically. The fact that much of that sympathy has ebbed away says little about the ingrained sentiments of the Greek people and much about the explicit failure of the eu and of both European and national politicians. For the last three years, says the mayor of Lesbos, Spyros Galinos, we have been bearing an immense burden on behalf of Greece and Europe.
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It is raining and filthy water has collected ankle-deep on sapling the homework road. The migrants who come out of the camp are covered with thin plastic capes and many of them are wearing only flipflops on their feet as they walk through the soup Welcome to one of the most shameful sites in all of Europe. A camp that was built to handle around 2,000 refugees now houses three times as many, in the most appalling conditions. The eus primary response to the deteriorating conditions in Greece was not to help either Greece or the migrants but, rather, to establish a deal with Turkey to return undocumented migrants. The deal arrangement was meant to ease the burden on Greece. In fact, it made it worse.
The numbers arriving in Greece dropped, but they were now imprisoned on the islands. Travel to the mainland, let alone beyond Greece, from the islands was barred to refugees and migrants. The scheme to relocate people to other eu member states has been a disastrous failure. The dreadful conditions in a camp such as Moria have inevitably created tensions within. Violence has become the norm. Many migrants have taken to moving out of the camp and sleeping rough, spreading violence and theft across the island and, inevitably, creating increasingly hostility among locals. The welcome that first greeted the migrants has long since gone.
Here, too, the public was, certainly initially, more sympathetic to the plight of migrants than were the authorities, whether in Athens or in Brussels. In 2016, at the height of the migration crisis, eu countries to the north closed their borders, creating a bottleneck in Greece. Suffering grievously from an economic crisis and from austerity policies imposed primarily at the behest of the eu, the people of Greece nevertheless showed an admirable moral commitment to the migrants. True, there were anti-migrant demonstrations and the far-right Golden Dawn won 7 of the vote in the 2015 general election. But mostly, greeks, at that time, showed enormous solidarity.
The island of Lesbos, close to the turkish coast, was at the very centre of the crisis. The number of migrants who arrived on the island in the first two months of 2016 alone was larger than Lesboss normal population, yet the locals continued to support migrants with food, shelter and solidarity. Ground zero of European ignominy, two years on, the situation is very different. Two years in which. Greece has effectively been abandoned by Brussels and places such as Lesbos abandoned by Athens. Those wishing to visit ground zero of European ignominy, observed the journalists, girogos Christides and Katrin Kuntz last november, must simply drive up an olive tree-covered hill on the island of Lesbos until the high cement walls of Camp Moria come into view. The dreadful stench of urine and garbage greets visitors and the ground is covered with hundreds of plastic bags.
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After having forcibly shut spontaneous migration camps, in Paris and elsewhere, he has introduced new legislation to toughen immigration and asylum laws. It will double to 90 days the time in which undocumented migrants can be detained, shorten deadlines to apply for asylum and make the undocumented crossing of borders punishable by a year in jail and fines. Sonia krimi, an mp from Macrons party En Marche, has accused the government of playing with peoples fears, adding: Not all foreigners in France are essay terrorists, not all foreigners cheat with social welfare. And wherever you look in Europe, from Scandinavia to Spain, from Italy to the netherlands, mainstream politicians are adopting a similar approach. Politicians such as may and Macron insist that they are simply responding to popular pressures, yet the story is more complex. In Britain, the government initially ignored the growing number of cases of Windrush generation migrants being detained, denied services, losing jobs. It was public outrage that eventually forced it to act. The public, in other words, was more liberal than the authorities.
That is to distort reality. For, while differences clearly exist, the divisions are not nearly as sharp as often suggested. It is the rhetoric and the policies emerging from the mainstream and from western Europe that have helped legitimise the hostility to immigration expressed by the populists and in eastern Europe. Over the past few weeks, Britain has been racked by an immigration scandal that led to the resignation of the home secretary. The proximate reason essay for the scandal is the treatment of the so-called Windrush generation. The deeper cause is the deliberate creation of what the prime minister, Theresa may, called, when she was home secretary, a hostile environment for migrants. It nurtured a climate of suspicion in which people were deemed guilty unless they could prove themselves innocent. Hundreds of people who had lived in Britain for decades, or had even been born in Britain, were treated as illegal immigrants because they could not prove otherwise. Meanwhile, in France, president Emmanuel Macron has pursued his own hostile environment policies.
Other. Too often when we discuss hateful portrayals of migrants or Muslims or other minorities, we focus on the far right, or on groups such. Pegida, or on countries such as Hungary and politicians such. It is certainly important that we call out such organisations and politicians and eviscerate their arguments. But we need also to recognise that the truth about dehumanisation is far more uncomfortable and far closer to home. The ideas and policies promoted by the far right and by populist anti-immigration figures have not come out of nowhere. They have become acceptable because the groundwork has already been laid, and continues to be maintained, by mainstream politicians and commentators. There is a tendency among liberals to see a great divide on immigration between the mainstream and the populists and between a more liberal western Europe and a more reactionary east.
The disaster would be a spur to action, promised the un secretary general at the time, ban ki-moon. After the tragedy, i wrote that such leaders may resume well be sincere in their expressions of anger and grief. And yet, i observed, one cannot but be cynical about all the lamentation. The horror of Lampedusa did not come out of the blue. Much of the responsibility lies with the policies pursued by european nations. I concluded: The next time there is another tragedy as at Lampedusa and there will be a next time and a next time after that and politicians across Europe express shock and grief and anger, remember this: they could have helped prevent it and chose. That is the real disgrace. And there has been a next time and a next time after that.
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In October 2013, a ship carrying migrants sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Some 300 people drowned. It was not the first time that migrants had drowned in the mediterranean. In fact, at that time it was estimated that in the previous 25 wood years at least 20,000 people had died trying to reach the shores of Europe. The real figure was most likely much higher. But that sinking in October 2013 was the first time that such a tragedy had truly impressed itself upon the conscience. European leaders expressed anger and outrage. The Italian government declared a national day of mourning. I hope that this will be the last time we see a tragedy of this kind, said jean-Claude mignon, head of the council of Europes parliamentary assembly.