Europe tightens immigration rules
France expected to pass DNA testing law for new immigrant families. In Switzerland, a conservative party wants to cast out 'black sheep.'
(Page 2 of 2)
France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, and Switzerland have all witnessed the rise of a conservative discourse that has shifted the gravitational center of immigration politics. The formerly extreme views of nationalist voices like Jean-Marie Le Pen in France are today part of the mainstream discussion.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Yet as immigration expert Judith Sunderland of Human Rights Watch in Milan, Italy, points out, immigration politics now cut across the European political spectrum. "Most of the fights are no longer over whether to proceed with new laws and policies," she argues. "Immigration is seen as a crisis for both the left and the right."
The conservative People's Party in Switzerland is one of the fastest growing political forces in the country. Funded by Christoph Blocher – who made his fortune in the chemical industry and is currently the justice minister – the party controls two of seven federal council seats.
The controversial People's Party poster of white sheep kicking out a black sheep symbolizes a proposed law to deport any noncitizen convicted of a crime – but critics say the real message runs to actual color. The sheep image is part of a mass mailing and poster campaign that blanketed Swiss households in September.
In France, the DNA law is officially described as an option to help speed up the new resident application process. But critics note that applicants who don't submit a DNA test will go to the bottom of the list. Thus, the law symbolizes a clearer negative attitude about non-French.
Fadela Amara, Sarkozy's Secretary of State for Urban Affairs, herself of Algerian extraction and a Socialist who is part of the broad coalition that Sarkozy has brought to his conservative cabinet – said the law was "disgusting" and threatened to resign her post. But this week Sarkozy appeared to have brought his closest DNA critics (including Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner) under control. On Monday Ms. Amara told France 2 radio, "I never thought to resign from the government."
Sarkozy has vowed to deport some 25,000 illegal migrants from France. In St. Denis, a Paris suburb, neighborhood "watch groups" have been set up to alert locals when police arrive.
Austria's deportation policy is under debate over the case of Arigona Zogaj, a 15-year old Kosovo girl who hid in Austria after her father and sibling were sent home. The interior minister and the Green Party have exchanged verbal blows after Arigona, released a series of letters and videos on the Internet, describing her plight-in-hiding.
Riva Kastoryano, an expert on immigration at Sciences Po in Paris, argues that the root of greater apprehension among mainstream Europeans is a fear of the spread of Islam. "Much of the old xenophobia about foreigners in Europe has been recast today as a perception of 'Islamophobia,' " she says.
2007 Timeline of European Immigration Crosscurrents
May 2007 – European Union launches European Border Patrols Network. The official reported objective is to curb illegal immigration across the Mediterranean Sea and along the South-West Atlantic coasts and to detect emergencies at sea thus reducing loss of life.
Source: The Jerusalem Post
Aug. 30, 2007 – French Immigration minister calls for a Europe-wide pact to keep immigrants from entering the region illegally. Minister Hortefeux called for tighter border controls, unified asylum policies, and fewer amnesties granted to illegals already in the area.
Source: The Daily Mail (London)
Sept. 13, 2007 – European Justice Chief tells European Union that it must relax its immigration controls and open the door to 20 million workers over the next decade, citing the need for more skilled labor from overseas.
Source: Financial Times (London, England) (According to an Agence Europe press release from Sept. 22, the Justice Chief Franco Frattini categorically denies having made this statement to The Financial Times.)
Sept. 19 – Legislation approved by France's National Assembly would allow immigrants to use DNA testing to prove bloodlines in order to bring relatives into their host country.
Source: The New York Times
Sept 27, 2007 – The EU Police cooperation agency announced an operational cooperation agreement between Europol and Australia, aimed at fighting drug trafficking, money laundering and illegal immigration.
Source: Agence Europe.
Sept. 27, 2007 – The European Parliament called for more legal immigration into the EU, citing aging population and low levels of skilled labor.
Source: The New York Times
October 2007 – The European Parliament's budgetary committee voted in favor of doubling the budget for Frontex, the European border agency, in an effort to reduce illegal immigration.
Source: Agence Europe
Oct. 15, 2007 – In a response to a question asked during a Parliament session, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office stated that the British Government would intervene in the immigration policy of an overseas territory government, if that policy breached constitutional guidelines, legal provisions, or human rights obligations.
Compiled by John Aubrey