Europe Needs Immigrants?

photo: bistro paris, saint germain

A little sun on a terrace goes a long way.

Vote For the Parti du Plaisir!

Paris:- Monday, 27. May 2002:- During the recent presidential elections in France one of the major issues seemed to concern 'immigration.' In reality, an 'immigrant' in France is more likely to be born here than not, so the term is a substitute for anyone who doesn't exactly 'look' French.

Considering France's former colonies, and its present offshore departments and territories, many 'French' are rainbow colored, and many more are the 2nd or 3rd generation of actual immigrants - from former French colonies - who have long had French nationality.

Last week Le Parisien published an interview with a foreign office official, about the European Union's immigration policy. As it stands, this is governed for all, except Britain, by the Schengen agreement.

In effect, it says any legal resident of the EU can circulate freely within the EU, and everybody else is a 'foreigner.' Britain has its own system, and is thus a target destination of attempted illegal immigration.

Despite EU efforts, Europe's borders are full of holes. 'Visitors' are routinely invited en masse as tourists, for example. The fall of the east's 'Wall' set off some movement west, but this is largely over. Most 'immigration' now comes from south of the Mediterranean.

To grapple with the problem of illegal immigration, a European summit conference has been announced for June in Seville to try an hammer out a common EU policy for it.

In a best case scenario, this conference will declare that illegal immigration is a 'grave' problem - in the last 16 months over six hundred thousand have entered Spain, mostly from nearby Africa, with about half being 'regularized - getting residence papers.

The aging of Europe's population is creating a need for some dose of immigration in both western and eastern Europe.

The major problem lies with public opinion. With the rise of extreme right-wing politicalphoto: palms in luxembourg parties - all against 'immigration' - Europe's leaders need the courage to create a common EU policy favorable to immigration, that may be politically unpopular.

The Luxembourg's palm trees actually attract sunshine.

This may involve setting 'quotas,' fixing the numbers of immigrants allowable each year, to each member state of the EU. This will require a certain honesty - an admission that the EU needs immigrants.

As long as no figures are set, politicians can continue to say that all 'immigration' is illegal. Spain has been talking about a possible 'quota' of 50,000 legal immigrants per year.

If EU citizens can accept such a figure - compared to a half-million 'illegals' - then the ultra right-wing parties might have one less issue for gaining votes.

Camped At Sangatte

The 'holes' in Europe's borders allow refugees into France and on arrival they often hear of Sangatte for the first time. This is a 'transit' camp set up by the French Red Cross in the small Calais suburb of Sangatte, a few hundred metres distant from Chunnel entry.

Each night a small number of Sangatte's temporary residents attempt to hop on a train or transport truck headed for the tunnel under the Channel. Twelve have died doing this.

The camp was built to house 700 and its current population is 1500. The Red Cross can't control its residents, and a visit this week by France's new super-security minister Nicolas Sarkozy merely resulted in a promise of an extra 30 gendarmes - in September.

Britain wants the camp closed. The operators of the Chunnel - Eurotunnel - want the camp closed, and the SNCF wants the camp closed too. Local residents, who voted massively for the FN, are just as vocal.

While everybody wonders how to close the camp, it is equally clear that most of its temporary residents don't have homes they can be sent back to - to Kurdistan in Irak or to Afghanistan, just to cite two examples.

Attempts to open other camps further away from the Channel were blocked by local opposition and disinterest by refugees.

These don't understand the attitude of French authorities. On one hand they have no problems reaching Sangatte, but after that the French do everything to stop them from getting to Britain.

For its part Britain is preparing to let everybody know it is going to have the RAF provide free flights back to Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka or Afghanistan for everybody who gets across the channel. Visas for diplomats will be refused to the countries that don't cooperate.

Britain is getting 1500 demands for asylum per week, and is granting it to 10 percent of the applicants - afterphoto: cafe delmas, place contrescarpe an average of 18 months' deliberation. This allows those who won't be accepted to melt into London's pot, where they will not be asked for residence permits.

One of Paris' biggest terraces, at the Place Contrescarpe.

Another measure Britain is thinking about is the establishment of three 'open' concentration camps, to hold refugees while their asylum applications are being considered. The neighbors of the chosen sites are welcoming the idea with the same warmth as expressed by the neighbors of the camp at Sangatte.

To 'get rid' of Sangatte, the Blair government is thinking of giving all 1300 current residents a free ride into Britain, in exchange for the camp being closed definitively.

Besides other fears, the British are worried sick about the possibility of a terrorist mixing in with the refugees, and blowing up the Chunnel.

Britain As Eldorado?

A French sociologist has conducted a study on behalf of the European Parliament of Sangatte's 'campers' over a recent six-month period, and discovered that not all is as it seems.

Most of the migrants are male and young - with an average age of 25. When they leave their homelands, Britain is not their primary destination. Most do not even know where they are going.

It is only after circuitous and chaotic trips lasting from three to six months, usually alone, sometimes in the hands of 'passers,' that the refugees arrive at Sangatte - about which they know nothing until after reaching Italy or France.

Lack of aid or welcome along the way propels them on, until Britain becomes the first choice because it is last in the chain of countries they pass through.

The sociologist's report did not state that Britain was just as unwelcoming as all other countries because it is miffed at being the last choice.

Vote For the Parti du Plaisir!

After having umpteen candidates for the first round of the presidential elections, it is not much of a surprise that there are 27 candidates for the first round of the legislative elections in Paris' 1st Electoral District.

Well, it is also a national record. This doesn't bother the one and only candidate of the Parti duphoto: door, garde republicaine, mouffetard Plaisir, strip-tease dancer Cindy Lee. Not that she knows her adversaries personally - no, but she ran against Jean Tiberi in the 5th arrondissement in the municipal elections in 2001, and lost by quite a lot.

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