Do African Migrants Threaten EU Social Infrastructure? The Rhetoric Plays On Fear

Written by Dana Sanchez

Europe can’t protect itself and preserve its standard of living and social infrastructure if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Sunday, according to a report in BusinessInsider.

Senior Labour leaders in turn accuse Hammond of scaremongering when he claims Europe can’t protect itself, The Guardian reported.

Britain’s Conservative government is under pressure to show it is acting to solve what media describe as “the Calais crisis” with hundreds of migrants trying every night to jump fences around the entrance to the Channel Tunnel in France.

Disruptions in passenger and freight traffic have dominated the summer’s headlines with some of the migrants managing to reach Britain, according to BusinessInsider.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron upset charities, left-wing politicians and church members when he described migrants as “a swarm,” BusinessInsider reported.

Hammond said the European Union cannot absorb millions of people seeking jobs and a new life.

“So long as there are large numbers of pretty desperate migrants marauding around the area, there always will be a threat to the tunnel security,” Hammond told BBC. “We’ve got to resolve this problem ultimately by being able to return those who are not entitled to claim asylum back to their countries of origin.”

The British government is ramping up its anti-immigration rhetoric in response to attempts by migrants to reach Britain.

Three candidates for the next Labour leader condemned Hammond’s use of language, TheGuardian reported. Jeremy Corbyn said Hammond’s comments were part of a pattern of language designed to stir up hostility and prejudice. Shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, said the language was “alarmist and unhelpful.” Liz Kendall said there should be no place in the debate for dehumanizing language.

Hammond told BBC, “We have got to be able to resolve this problem ultimately by being able to return those who are not entitled to claim asylum back to their countries of origin. That’s our number one priority.”

European Union laws are giving migrants the confidence to think they’ll be able to stay, Hammond said. There will always be millions of Africans with “the economic motivation” to want to get to Europe, he said.

More than 715,000 people applied for asylum in the European Union during in the past year, GatestoneInstitute reported July 12.

In 2014, Hungary received more refugees per capita than any other EU country apart from Sweden. Asylum requests for Austria rose nearly 180 percent in the first five months of 2015, to 20,620, and were on track to reach 70,000 by the end of 2015.

“The face of European civilization… will never again be what it is now. There is no way back from a multicultural Europe. Neither to a Christian Europe, nor to the world of national cultures,” said Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary, according to GatestoneInstitute.

Here are some of measures undertaken by some European countries to try and stop or discourage migrants from entering, according to GatestoneInstitute:

Bulgaria has built a 33-kilometer (21-mile), three-meter-high (10-foot) barbed wire fence along its border with its southeastern neighbor Turkey in an effort to limit the influx of migrants from Syria and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. The Interior Ministry has also deployed more than 1,000 police officers to patrol the Turkish border.

Greece has erected a 10.5-kilometer, four-meter-high barbed-wire fence along part of its border with Turkey. The Greek wall is said to be responsible for diverting migration routes toward neighboring Bulgaria and, consequently, for construction of the wall there.

Spain has fortified fences in the North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla as record numbers of migrants are jumping over the barriers from neighboring Morocco. Border police registered more than 19,000 attempts to jump the fence at Melilla in 2014, up 350 percent in 2013, according to the Interior Ministry. Nearly 7,500 migrants successfully entered Ceuta and Melilla in 2014, including 3,305 from Syria.

The U.K. is setting up more than two miles of nine-foot-high security fencing at the Channel Tunnel port of Calais in Northern France, in an attempt to stop thousands of illegal migrants breaking into trucks bound for the UK. More than 39,000 would-be illegal immigrants were prevented from crossing the Channel in the 12 months prior to April, more than double the previous year.

EU member states are implementing other emergency measures to halt the flow of immigration.

Austria has stopped processing asylum claims as of June 13, in an effort to make the country “less attractive” for migrants relative to other EU countries. According to Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Vienna was “stopping the Austrian asylum express,” whereby applications are processed within an average period of four months, faster than in any other EU country. Asylum requests for Austria rose nearly 180 percent in the first five months of 2015 to 20,620, and were on track to reach 70,000 by the end of the year.

Denmark on July 1 announced that it would slash benefits for asylum seekers to bring down the number of refugees coming to the country. It recently emerged that three out of four refugees who came to Denmark in the early 2000s are jobless 10 years later.

France and Italy have sparred over who is responsible for hundreds of African migrants stranded at Ventimiglia on the France-Italy border after French police refused to let them in. France accused Italy of failing to respect the so-called Dublin Regulation, a law that requires people seeking refuge within the EU to do so in the first European country they reach. Italian officials argued that the migrants see Italy as only a transit country.

Hungary on June 23 suspended its adherence to the Dublin Regulation, which requires Hungary to take back refugees who have traveled through the country to reach other EU countries.

Meanwhile, the European Commission, the EU’s powerful bureaucratic arm, on May 27 announced a controversial “relocation plan” that would require EU member states to accept 40,000 Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers from Italy and Greece over the next two years.

A proposal to “share” migrants among EU member states is aimed at easing the growing burden on Italy and Greece, two countries that — in addition to Hungary and Spain — have emerged as the main gateways for migration into Europe.