By Peter Costantini
In much of Europe, government policies and public attitudes towards immigration - mainly from Africa and the Middle East – have hardened over recent years.
“The European Union’s borders continue to be a site for the
punishment and weaponization of people trying to find a better life.”, writes
Kenyan political analyst Nanjala Nyabola. … [M]ainstream politics across the
region has made room for the far right to shape narratives around migration,
particularly migration from the Global South. … The border crisis in Europe is
a moral crisis. A region which positions itself as a worldwide moral arbiter
has demonstrated that its moral imagination cannot extend to the safe movement
of people who come through its borders.”
- Nanjala Nyabola. “Migration: Europe’s Achilles’ heel”. Oxford, UK: New Internationalist, February 15, 2022.
In the April 24 presidential election in France, centrist incumbent Emmanuel Macron easily defeated extreme-right challenger Marine Le Pen by 17 percentage points. Le Pen, however, increased her share of the electorate by 7.6 points since the 2017 elections, gaining 41.5 percent of the vote.
While softening her signature anti-immigrant rhetoric, Le Pen maintained white nationalist and restrictionist positions on immigration, including calling for asylum seekers to be processed abroad (in an echo of Trump’s "Migrant Protection Protocols"). However, she also campaigned on some left-leaning economic and social policies, in contrast to Macron’s unpopular weakening of labor protections and proposal to raise the retirement age.
“This election has further scrambled the traditional divide
between left and right in France,” according to Rachel Donadio of The Atlantic
magazine. “Ms. Le Pen has managed to widen her consensus by combining far-right
positions on immigration with a left-leaning defense of public spending and
- Rachel Donadio. “Marine Le Pen has already won”. New York Times, April 24, 2022.
Algeria’s war of independence from France, which ended in 1962 after more than 130 years of colonization, continues to haunt France’s debates on immigration and national identity.
“Grim conspiracy theories about replacing white, Christian
French with Muslims from North Africa. Vows to limit immigration from the
region. And the evocation of memories of a supposedly glorious colonial past in
Algeria. … [T]he long shadows of that past … have increasingly pervaded the
campaigns of right-wing candidates in next month’s presidential elections.”
- Constant Méheut. “Shadows of Algerian War Loom Over Election Campaign in France”. New York Times, March 19, 2022.
A sudden influx of over five million Ukrainian war refugees
into countries of eastern and central Europe has mostly been welcomed with outpourings
of generosity. However, the contrast with the cold shoulder offered in some
cases to African and Middle Eastern refugees has incited accusations of racism.
- Nadine White. “UN admits refugees have faced racism at Ukraine borders”. London: The Independent, March 1, 2022.
English Channel / La Manche
Lorenzo Tondo, Luke Harding & Vincent Ni. “‘Good
anti-sinking capacity, lifejacket optional’: journey of a ‘refugee boat’”.
London: The Guardian, December 28, 2022.
Sebastian Skov Andersen & Gabriel Geiger. “Rule of
Silence”. Oxford, UK: New Internationalist, January 20, 2022.
Alex W. Palmer. “They Came to Help Migrants. Now, Europe Has
Turned on Them.” New York Times Magazine, March 2, 2022.
Ian Urbina. “The Secretive Prisons That Keep Migrants Out of
Europe”. The New Yorker, November 11, 2021.