Finally, immgration talk that makes sense

10 Oct

This morning, I heard an article on NPR regarding the deaths of at least 280 African (Eritrean, Somali and Ghanaian) migrants whose boat capsized and caught fire just off the shore of Italy earlier this month (http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/03/world/europe/italy-migrants-sink/index.html). Fleeing famine and war, the migrants were hoping to smuggle themselves to safer, freer lives in Europe.

I was struck by the European response to this tragedy:

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecelia Malmstrom, who is reportedly “pushing for tougher measures to fight smugglers, partnerships with migrants’ home countries, and an increase in legal immigration quotas,” stated, “This restrictive approach [of closing borders] has proven its limit. We need to move towards openness, solidarity, sharing of responsibility and true European response.” (http://www.npr.org/2013/10/10/231248988/tragedy-prompts-calls-for-change-to-eus-immigration-polices).

Meanwhile, Bruegel Institute migration specialist Rainer Munz is advocating for governments to “address the root causes why people are leaving Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, etc.” because “[t]o truly solve the problem, migrants must be given hope back in their own countries.”

And as I was listening, I found myself thinking this is the first practical and moral institutional perspective on immigration reform I’ve heard in, well, too long. Of course, it’s coming from across the pond. Yes, yes, I know they’re European, and this story is brought to you by public radio. And yet. I can only hope more people in the US are paying attention to how other countries (check out New Zealand!) handle immigration for the mutual benefit of immigrants and native born folks. Because wouldn’t that really be something to work towards?

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