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Monday, May 4, 2015

Illegal immigration is an international problem, not something unique to North America.

Links: A. Europe faces a flood of sea-bound illegal immigrants.
           B. France's NF calls for an end to allowing migrants entry.

In the last few weeks, calm seas have resulted in thousands of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to reach Europe and a brighter future.  I can't blame these folks; I would probably being taking the same action if I were in their shoes.  It's not a difficult issue to understand.  People in north and sub-Saharan Africa, who struggle to feed their families and have no real hope of bettering their lives, will spend whatever meager amount of money they can raise to try and hire a smuggler to find a place on a boat that will sail in the direction of Europe.  One difference between the illegal immigration in this part of the world and the problem on the U.S./Mexico border: persons attempting illegal entry into the southern United States (mostly from Mexico and Central America) usually don't bring their families.  They settle in, find a job, and send for their families later (ideally), who then repeat the process as a group.  Border Patrol officers on the U.S./Mexico border normally encounter adult males, between the ages of sixteen and fifty, who are attempting illegal entry.  Certainly families will attempt to cross together on occasion, but usually the male bread winner will come first.  For most persons attempting the crossing of the Mediterranean, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; therefore a much higher percentage of families will attempt the crossing together.  This detail increases the number of children and elderly who are at risk, and ultimately, become casualties.

The various Republics that constitute the European Union (EU) in 2015 (and those who cling to the periphery, like the UK and Norway), have elbowed and bruised each other to see who can be the most "progressive" and "liberal".  This  has resulted in a number of positive developments, especially in the area of minority rights.  A serious movement exists to guarantee women equal pay for equal work, and the gay community has been granted certain protections that combat homophobia not only in the workplace but in public environments as well.  The move to appear more progressive has really focused on the social issues of each respective nation.  Certainly Germany, Italy, Austria, France, and others have taken steps to strengthen the so-called "social safety net" of unemployment, disability, paternity leave, gay-partner benefits, and other concerns.  Its almost as if one day the EU decided that it had reached a level of maturity and wealth that obligated its member countries to leave no person without lodging, food, clothing, medicine, and a certain degree of comfort.  This is a very worthy goal, but a bit too utopian for my reality.  Not every EU member state is drowning in wealth.  In fact, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain threaten to scuttle the entire EU scheme in debt sometime within the next decade.  Sadly enough, these four countries have each been forced to deal with the ever-increasing issue of seaborne illegal-migrant traffic (in this instance, Europeans use the word "migrant" instead of "immigrant").  Part of the EU's effort to deny no person basic human rights was the decision to not repatriate these sea-borne migrants who come by the hundreds of thousands every year (except in the case of terrorists or murderers....good luck checking everyone).  Once these refugees from Niger, Libya, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Congo, etc., either land or are intercepted at sea (lets not reflect too long on the poor souls who never make it to this point....its too heartbreaking for me to consider), they are distributed to various immigrant processing locations.  Just because a boatload of migrants was intercepted in Italian waters does not guarantee that they will become wards of the Italian state.  They may end up in Austria, or Denmark.  But wherever they end up, one fact is guaranteed: they are the responsibility of the state, i.e. the taxpayers of whatever country we are dealing with.  Some nations, including France and Austria, have been very proactive in creating education and employment training programs for the migrants.  Ideally, the new arrivals will soon become productive, job-holding, tax-paying members of society.  Sadly, it just doesn't happen that way; at least not often enough.

Recently I saw an interview with Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front political party and possibly the front runner for the presidency in 2017.  I can't say that I agree with everything this lady has to say, but I give her credit for being intelligent, clear and to-the-point.  As is highlighted in the second link above, Le Pen points out that the longer the EU states continue the policy of guaranteed legal residency for all persons who manage to float a dinghy in the direction of Europe, then the number of migrants will continue to increase.  Soon the numbers will become unsupportable.  If residency is no longer a guarantee, and persons who attempt an illegal entry by sea are treated in the same manner as those who attempt an illegal entry by land (repatriation), then people will stop risking their lives and their meager savings in this effort.  Look, its normal for decent folks to have sympathy for persons who are trapped in the third world and have little hope for the future.  But there are other avenues to help that do not involve drowning your own country and crippling the future of your children and grandchildren.  Europe is not financially able to support a third of the population of Africa.  In fact, the more I look at Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, and Italy, the more concerned I become regarding the EU's ability to support itself. 

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