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Proletarian issue 25 (August 2008)
EU immigration law
An exercise in scapegoating immigrants that arouses indignation worldwide.
The European Parliament approved new immigration rules on 18 June 2008 that have roused indignation among the governments of countries whose nationals need to go abroad to find work, as the rules draw attention to the abysmal treatment that foreign workers receive in Europe.

The European Union, while enriching itself from the labour of thousands of immigrants, and enjoying a far higher standard of living than would be possible without the availability of cheap immigrant labour, flagrantly uses immigrants as scapegoats for all the ills of capitalism, rousing native Europeans to a frenzy of racist hatred that ought to be directed instead at capitalism and imperialism.

Having subjected the population to non-stop, night-and-day propaganda against immigrants, the European Union then ‘assuages’ the native Europeans. How? Why, with the passing of legislation that criminalises immigrants, that incites hatred, and that implies that for a foreign person to try to make a better life for himself and his family in Europe is itself a criminal act!

If that is indeed the case, the greatest criminals are undoubtedly the Europeans, who have settled themselves in every country and on every continent – usually at the great expense of the native inhabitants.

The new European law would, having given all Europe’s estimated 8 million ‘illegal’ immigrants a period of only a few weeks to leave the country (regardless of detriment to health or children’s education, etc), allow countries to jail those who don’t leave immediately for as long as 18 months pending deportation. In addition, anybody deported can be banned from entering any one of the EU’s 27 member states for up to five years.

The new measures, due to come into effect in 2010, have been roundly condemned all over the world, but nowhere more so than in Latin America. The words of Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, are especially poignant:

When European migrants arrived in America, he said “they took possession of thousands of hectares of land, mines, natural resources and exploited our people”, while, on the contrary, the Latin American people in Europe “are not exploiting anyone, [and] they are not taking possession of thousands of hectares of land and mines; they are not destroying the natural resources”. (‘Latin American leaders reject EU new immigration policy’, Xinhua, 2 July 2008)

President Chávez of Venezuela has urged that sanctions should be applied to Europe by Latin American countries if these measures are implemented, and, in particular, that no oil should be sold to any EU country.

The law has been condemned by human-rights organisations as promoting excessive detention, although actually it only highlights the fact that the existing provisions in several European countries (including Britain, to which the new European law will not apply as it is not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement) are worse and actually permit indefinite incarceration of ‘illegals’.

It is expected that all the countries to which the new law applies will apply the harshest permitted measures, so that several of the more ‘generous’ countries will become harsher in future.

The new rules will also give countries greater flexibility in declaring emergency situations if an “exceptionally large number” of illegal immigrants were to place “an unforeseen heavy burden” on a member state, allowing longer periods for judicial review and “less favourable conditions of detention”. (‘EU moves to standardize immigrant policy’, Washington Post, 19 June 2008)

This amounts to nothing more or less than legislating for harassment of immigrants on a wave of propaganda-created hysteria that European governments are keeping in reserve in the light of what they fear might be the popular reaction to a sharp drop in the general standard of living in Europe brought about by the current economic crisis. This crisis is only just beginning to bite in Europe, but is generally recognised to be bringing much worse in its train over the next few years.

In these circumstances, the CPGB-ML is proud to be a party that has kept its head when all about are losing theirs by adopting a resolution at its Fourth Congress on 5 July which embraces all immigrant workers as members of our British working class and stands for unity with workers of all nationalities, regardless of their immigration status in the eyes of the bourgeoisie, against capitalism, the true cause of the misery of the masses of working people of the world and their dependants.

United, we will overthrow capitalism and build socialism and a bright future for all.
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