Refugees and asylum-seekers: NO, "legal migration": YES


"Organised crime is involved in almost all of that migration [from the Western Balkans]. Many of the criminals involved may also deal in drugs, prostitution, slavery and pornography... The debate should focus, not only on the repression of criminal activity connected with immigration, but also on supporting appropriate opportunities, where in the economic and national interest, for legal migration into a diverse and tolerant society. " (Tony Blair, Observer, 4.2.01)

In this article in the Observer newspaper on Sunday the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, sets "illegal" immigration against "legal migration" where it is in the "economic and national interest". People desperately fleeing starvation and/or persecution, refugees and asylum-seekers, are not to be welcome in the EU. Blair argues this is because "organised crime is involved in almost all... migration", which is not borne out by the EU's own, very limited, figures which show that only 10% of migrants are forced to use criminal networks with most using family or friendship networks. However, "legal migrants" who meet the criteria of the EU's economic needs are to be welcome."Closing Europe's back door", Tony Blair, Observer, 4.2.01: Blair article       Jack Straw speech, 6.2.01: Straw speech

The full-text of A. Sivanandan's article: "Refugees from globalism": CARF
Nick Cohen, "Observer", 11.2.01: Cohen



Statewatch bulletin: June-August 2000

EU: Opening the door to migrants?

The speech by Barbara Roche, UK Home Office Minister, to the conference in Paris "Fight against clandestine entry networks" and the later pronouncement by Jean-Pierre Chevenement, the French Interior Minister that the EU needs 75 million immigrants by the year 2050 had the same theme. Both argued that there must be a crackdown on unwanted and uncontrolled migration to stop "trafficking" and "people smuggling" while, as Barbara Roche put it:

"We need to find ways to meet legitimate desires to migrate, be ready to think imaginatively about how migration can meet emerging social and economic needs."

The economic needs of the EU thus must be met by the planned immigration of skilled labour to met shortfalls in the ageing population - migration is "legitimate" if it satisfies EU labour objectives. Illegitimate, and soon to be "unlawful" under the EU French Presidency plans, entry to the EU by political and economic refugees and asylum-seekers is characterised as feeding "organised crime" and criminals who exploit people (including those who give them homes or work in the EU).
An extensive 100-page report for UNHCR's Policy Research Unit by John Morrison directly questions the assumptions of EU immigration policy. The report says that the policymaking of the EU governments:

"is part of the problem and not the solution. Refugees are now forced to use illegal means if they want to access Europe at all... There are very few legal possibilities for refugees to enter the European Union so the majority are required to attempt ever more clandestine forms of entry."

All the EU's policies the report says are geared to border controls, controls on the transit countries and the countries of origin. As to migrants who get involved in smuggling and trafficking to escape persecution:

"the emphasis is on closing down criminal activities but without providing alternative means for migration for those with no choice other than to flee."

It was at the Informal meeting of Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Birmingham in 1998 under the UK Presidency of the EU that the long-term plan was spelt out. The Council and the Commission said that the issue of "economic migrants" had been dealt with, now was the time to tackle "political" migrants and replace the now-outdated 1951 Geneva Convention - this would leave the EU to define its own needs.

The issue is addressed head-on by an article in the Guardian newspaper by A Sivanandan, director of the Institute of Race Relations in an article entitled: "Casualties of globalism - today's economic migrants are also political refugees". He writes:

"the distinction between political refugees and economic migrants is a bogus one - susceptible to different interpretation by different interests at different times. The west is quite happy to take economic migrants if they are businessmen (with the requisite £250,000), professionals or technologically-skilled.. [but] the west does not need, as it did in the immediate postwar era, a pool of unskilled labour on its doorstep..."

The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G8 countries hold the "poor regimes in hock" and demand "so-called structural adjustment programmes" Sivanandan says, with the effect that:

"It denies the possibility of indigenous growth or any hope for the future which is not tied up with foreign powers and foreign capital. Hence resistance to economic deterioration is inseparable from resistance to political persecution. The economic migrant is also the political refugee."

Sources: "Together Europe can beat people smugglers - Roche", Home Office press release, 21.7.00; Independent, 21.7.00; "The trafficking and smuggling of refugees: the end game in European asylum policy?, John Morrison, UNHCR's Policy Research Unit, July 2000; "Casualties of globalism", A Sivanandan, Guardian, 8.8.00.



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