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Immigration and Asylum Policy in the EU
The formation of the European Union was a feat, unprecedented in modern history. This agreement represented feat of political cooperation never before accomplished in the history of the world. Under this agreement, local governments were able to combine forces and operate on a Regional level. Prior to the formation of the EU, Europe consisted of many different countries and these countries were rich in tradition and individual culture. The formation of the EU caused many, often-conflicting cultures, to lay their differences aside and enter into a spirit of cooperation. There were many issues to be resolves, such as market equality. All countries in the EU were not on an equal economic scale. Some were large and powerful, industrialized and economically stable. Others were developing countries and in order to enter into the marketplace and compete on an equal scale, they had to be assisted by the more developed countries.
Migration and immigration was largely conducted on a friendly basis in the past. It was easy to travel about Europe, as a vacationer. The travel and tourism thrived. Europe was easy as a traveler, with a highly connected and efficient rail system and passports that were easy to obtain. Vacationing was encouraged and welcomed. However, immigration on a permanent basis, or employment across border was another issue altogether. Many governments had maintained a rather isolationist attitude in the past, preferring to keep their culture and identity as pure as possible.
Immigrants were seen as problems, burdens on the system that offered little by way of economic development. They were stereotyped as poorly educated or social problems, a burden on the host country. They were thought of as desperate refugees, with no where to go. Lately, Europe has been changing its ideal of the immigrant worker. The opening of the European market has resulted in unprecedented economic growth. Europe soon found itself in a unique economic situation. Their economy was growing at an enormous rate, but their population was not. In addition, they faced a growing senior population. The economy could not continue to grow with no workers, or persons to buy the products and goods.
This unusual economic situation caused the EU to re-examine their positions on immigration. They began to adopt, region-wide policies regarding immigration and the status of citizens who had been long-term occupants of the country in which they resided. They found that in many cases, these immigrants were not burdens on the system, but had become highly productive workers in their new country of residence. These immigrants offered one solution to the economic dilemma that threatened the growth of the new European economy.
It seemed like an easy solution, but that is not the end of the story. There are still many who view immigrants as productive members of the society. They argue that immigrants will have the effect of homogenizing European culture and many traditionalists, still wish to maintain their cultural identities. Those who support this side of the argument also point out the increase in crime that immigrants cause. They propose that the newly loosened immigration policies in the EU will cause many more problems than they resolve. They favor a tightening of immigration policies rather than a loosening. The following research will examine both sides of the immigration issue. It will support that thesis that immigration poses a solution to the threat on European economic growth and the immigration policies should be loosened to meet the growing needs of a new, more competitive economy.
One point of contrition among those policy makers is the difference between immigration policy and asylum policy. Since the events of September 11, 2001, this has become an increasing concern. (AELC, 2002). One of the fundamental questions of the issue is whether immigration and migration can truly be regulated across borders. If the past is any example, it is likely that the answer will be, "No." Concerns over national security have led to an increased effort at controlling borders all over the world. However, as has been demonstrated in the past, this does not resolve the issue and people still find ways to cross borders without being detected.
Most would agree that the issue of asylum is clear, when it involves a dangerous criminal, such as the terrorists, who have not only threatened the United States, but the world at large. Many would agree with the extradition of those involved for the safety of the world. However, what about in cases, where no safety issue is involved. What about cases where the person is being persecuted for their religious beliefs, or for speaking out against a corrupt government. Should these people be deported, or should they be given safe haven and allowed to legally migrate to the host country? This is a human rights issue, and one that is at the forefront of the current debate.
In the development of immigration and asylum policy, the EU must Blanca the rights of the member nations to control immigration into their own country, yet meet the growing needs of security. One of the failings of the current policy is its lack of acknowledgement of the basic human rights of immigrants, who are no accounted for in the legal records. The Academy of European Law Conference (AELC), at its 2002 conference consider this to be a primary concern for policy makers. It points out many examples where illegal immigrants into various countries have been denied basic human needs, such as food, housing, or fair application of the law, due to their illegal status. They point out that many of these people contribute to the local economy and that they are often exploited, due to their legal status. They have no rights, even though many of them are contributing members of their new society. Undocumented immigrants have been the victims of police abuse, racial and ethnic discrimination, and violations of women's and children's rights (AELC, 2002). It is clear the policy makers it the EU needs to address these issues in the formation of new policies that they are considering. At this time, policies regarding illegal immigrants are not uniform and there are many differences in the way individual countries handle the situation. The AELC contends that any human being, regardless, of legal immigration status is entitled to at least some basic human rights.
The AELC has documented some very gruesome violations of human rights in otherwise civilized countries in the EU. It has been found that detainees were denied adequate food, water, and medical care. Policy makers in the EU have virtually ignored these violations of human rights. The reasons for this lack of action and considerations can only be guessed. Perhaps the guilty countries do not with the others to scrutinize them so carefully, or perhaps the discussion of this issue would cause such division among member, that they simply avoided it in every case and that it might cause a stall in other decisions. At some point, this issue will have to be considered and resolved by policymakers. Standard policies will have to be adopted in the EU regarding these issues. It is true that some of these undocumented immigrants may have entered the country to commit crimes or other violent acts, but this does not warrant the blanket mistreatment of all.
The resolution of this issue will not be an easy one. Some feel that drastic measures are needed. Of instance, European Commissioner Anita Gradin argues that Europe will never be able to solve the problems of illegal immigration, drug trafficking across borders and international financial fraud unless the 15 EU member states agree to surrender national sovereignty over border control and immigration to regional governmental institutions. (Migration Policy, 1997). Others feel that the system that they currently have in place is adequate and that this will serve to make them ineffective. Britain is one example of this case (Migration Policy, 1997). In this case, both sides are correct and appear to be at a stand off. It is clear that the answers to these questions will not be easy to reach. Gradin uses the a developing underground slave trade in the EU as the primary support for her position. Girls are brought into the EU from Eastern and Central Europe. When they arrive, their papers are taken away and they are forced into prostitution (Migration Policy, 1997). Britain contends that it should be able to be excluded from the international policies, as it already has adequate border control measures in place.
The Council Resolution of 20 June, 1994 addressed several issues on the admission of third country nationals to the territory of an EU members state for employment purposes (Indian Embassy, 2000). The early 1990s saw a rise in unemployment and many policy makers felt that it was necessary to tighten immigration policies for employment purposes in order to assure that there was a plentiful supply of employment for local nationals. This resolution stated that member states should observe policies…[continue]
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