How Germany Turned Its Refugee Crisis into Success

Cologne Germany
Skyline of Cologne, Germany (Unsplash/Eric Weber)

Migration is back on the European agenda after a fire in the Mória refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos left some 13,000 without shelter.

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson has called for “mandatory solidarity” from member states, but not all countries are willing to accept asylum seekers. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia resist proposals to distribute migrants proportionately across the EU.

With xenophobia hampering an effective migration policy, it’s worth taking a look at the country that has admitted the most refugees: Germany. Its “we will manage” attitude could be an example to its neighbors. Read more “How Germany Turned Its Refugee Crisis into Success”

Democrats Are Not Talking to Swing Voters

Bernie Sanders
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders gives a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, October 30, 2015 (Michael Vadon)

Imagine you’re an American swing voter and you listened Tuesday and Wednesday night to the twenty Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination. What did you hear?

  • Three of the four highest-polling candidates want to abolish private health insurance and replace it with a single government program.
  • Virtually all candidates would decriminalize illegal entry into the United States and all of them praised immigration.
  • Many would give free health care to undocumented immigrants.
  • Some, like Bernie Sanders, would even give them a free college education.

This is not a winning program. Read more “Democrats Are Not Talking to Swing Voters”

Common Sense Unlikely to Prevail in American Immigration Debate

United States flag
Flag of the United States in Washington DC (Unsplash/Chris Hardy)

The two parties in the United States compromised last week to pass a $4.6 billion bill to relieve the crisis at the southern border.

The left wing of the Democratic Party had resisted the deal, fearing that some of the money might be used to fund President Donald Trump’s family-separation policy. But House speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that the children — some of whom have gone without medication and even basic sanitation while separated from their parents — must “come first”.

At the end of the day, we have to make sure that the resources needed to protect the children are available.

It’s a fair compromise. Don’t expect more of it. Read more “Common Sense Unlikely to Prevail in American Immigration Debate”

Loss of Control: What Moderates Get Wrong About Migration

Hungary migrants
Red Cross workers provide first aid to migrants in Hungary, September 4, 2015 (IFRC/Stephen Ryan)

Immigration into Europe and the United States is down, yet the far right continues to monopolize the debate.

The EU faced a one-time surge in asylum applications from Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians in 2015-16 as well as four years of high numbers of mostly African migrants (PDF) trying to reach Italy by boat. The numbers are down, yet the far-right League is the most popular party in Italy.

In the United States, asylum applications from Central American countries plagued by violence are up, but Mexican immigration is down. Donald Trump nevertheless won the 2016 election on a virulently anti-immigrant platform.

Fake news and media echo chambers are part of the problem. It is difficult to expose voters to the facts when they can find “alternative facts” just a click away. But this does not fully explain the appeal of the populist message. The bigger problem is that moderates do not have a coherent migration policy to fix systems that are obviously broken. As a result, they do not have a strong story to tell. Read more “Loss of Control: What Moderates Get Wrong About Migration”

Spanish Right Takes Harder Line on Catalonia, Immigration

Pablo Casado
Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain’s People’s Party in Barcelona, July 26 (PP)

The new Spanish conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is making good on his promise to move the People’s Party to the right.

  • In talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who leads a minority left-wing government, Casado refused to support dialogue with Catalan parties that want to break away from Spain.
  • Separately, he argued Spain cannot “absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe in search of a better future.”

Both positions mark a hardening from those of Casado’s predecessor, and the previous prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. Read more “Spanish Right Takes Harder Line on Catalonia, Immigration”

Far-Right League Gains Most from Governing in Italy

Italy’s far-right League is benefiting the most from the government deal it struck with the populist Five Star Movement earlier this month.

  • In municipal elections on Sunday, the League captured the former left-wing strongholds of Massa, Pisa and Siena in the region of Tuscany.
  • Nationally, the League is tied with the Five Star Movement in the polls. Both get 27-29 percent support. In the last election, the Five Stars got 33 percent support against 17 percent for the League. Read more “Far-Right League Gains Most from Governing in Italy”

Three Possible Futures for Europe’s Open-Borders Schengen Area

Brenner Pass Austria
Trucks drive through the Brenner Pass in Austria (Unsplash/Iwona Castiello d’Antonio)

Elizabeth Collett of the Migration Policy Institute Europe tells The Economist there are three possible futures for the continent’s free-travel Schengen area:

  1. The slow spread of border controls, quietly tolerated by Brussels.
  2. The expansion of controls via technology, such as numberplate recognition and spot checks.
  3. A regression to a smaller number of separate passport-free zones, for example, the Benelux, Nordics and Iberia. Read more “Three Possible Futures for Europe’s Open-Borders Schengen Area”

Bavarian Right Manufactures Immigration Crisis

Viktor Orbán Horst Seehofer
Prime Ministers Viktor Orbán of Hungary and Horst Seehofer of Bavaria meet in Bad Staffelstein, Germany, September 23, 2015 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

Germany’s ruling conservative parties are at odds over immigration. Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) wants to turn refugees away at the border if they have already applied for asylum in another EU country. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) argues this goes too far.

Here is everything you need to know about the row. Read more “Bavarian Right Manufactures Immigration Crisis”

Trump Rejects Immigration Compromise, Mueller Indicts Russians

American president Donald Trump has for the second time torpedoed a bipartisan immigration bill by threatening to veto it.

The reason, NBC News reports, is that he wants to keep immigration as a political issue to rally his base going into November’s congressional elections.

The cynicism is astounding. Chris Hayes points out on Twitter:

  • First the president unilaterally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, creating uncertainty for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as minors.
  • He gave Congress six months to fix the problem (he had created), promising to sign whatever bill lawmakers would put in front of him.
  • He was promptly brought a bipartisan deal, which combined increased border security with a pathway to legal status for the so-called Dreamers. He rejected it.
  • He was then brought a second bipartisan deal with even more support. He rejected that.

Clearly the president isn’t interested a solution. He lied — as usual.

Also read David A. Hopkins, who argues Trump has pushed Republicans to the right on immigration, and Greg Sargent in The Washington Post, who points out that the Republican position on Dreamers is far to the right of Middle America’s. Read more “Trump Rejects Immigration Compromise, Mueller Indicts Russians”

Why Should Norwegians Emigrate to the United States?

Norway fjord
Houses along a fjord in Norway (Unsplash/Raimond Klavins)

American president Donald Trump reportedly disparaged immigrants from Africa, El Salvador and Haiti on Thursday, asking his advisors, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

Trump then suggested that the United States should bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he had met a day earlier.

Much of the outrage has focused on Trump’s racism. It’s clear he would rather have more white than brown people in his country.

But here’s another question: What possible reason do Norwegians have to emigrate to the United States? Read more “Why Should Norwegians Emigrate to the United States?”