A death of a 3-year-old Syrian boy on his way
Brief history of migrants in Europeto refuge made the whole world cry and persuaded several countries to accept refugees. But still, this theme is controversial. Since the number of refugees resulted by Syrian civil war alone is already over 4 million and when it is counted with refugees from other countries, it would be “tremendous”. What makes it worse is that most of the refugees want their new start in “Europe”. This is because Europe is famous for its fantastic welfare and ideal conceptions of humanity. In fact, Europe has various policies to support refugees all over the world. Therefore, many countries, including Korean, have referred to EU’s policy of refugees and migrants to make their own. However, Europe is now tightening its borders, shutting down trains to stop refugees from reaching their lands. How did they come to this?
- Demand of both sides: early ~late 20C
After World War Ⅱ, Europe’s demand for labor and the Third world’s labor supply were perfectly matched. Some wealthy European countries even invited cheap laborers from other countries such as Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, India, Korea etc. These people came to Europe mostly for their own country’s sake. Since then, a great number of migrants flowed into Europe and migrants became 10~20% of western and northern Europe’s population. Then the concept of “Multi-culture” bloomed as they built their communities in Europe.
- Europe as shelter for asylum seekers: 90s ~
While Europe gave migrants hopes and dreams, other countries in the rest of the world gave pain to their people. They are mostly located in Africa and Middle East where always civil war and reckless tyranny or human rights abuse take place. Since Europe has historical responsibility toward suffering people in those countries, most of Europe states guarantee asylum seekers human rights and extra small income by a part of policy. So far Europe has accepted refugees mainly from Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Eritrea, African countries in war and also North Korea.
* People who left their country as “asylum seekers” and when they are caused by war, we call them also ‘refugees’.
- Prosperity of multi-cultural society and benevolence: middle 20C ~
So, the influx of migrants who willingly or unwillingly left their homes resolved somehow Europe’s labor shortage and birth rate problems. EU found it so great that they developed social infra to prepare and support upcoming multi-cultural society in each country’s way according to each one’s historical, economical background. For example, France wanted its migrants to be assimilated (assimilationism) but Sweden tried to respect cultural difference of migrants and accepted it as part of ‘Swedish’ (multiculturalism). Germany took ‘differential foreign policy’ which sets restriction in some area of social activity. Although there were different kinds of policies, the basic idea was the same: to embrace migrants benevolently and humanely.
Anti-immigration sentiments rise among Europe
- Irritated by illegal migrants
Not only Europe’s noble conception of equality and humanity but the far higher wages and far better welfare system than any other country contributed to the fame of Europe as one of the best alternative in the world. Unfortunately, those who want to immigrate to Europe are unqualified as immigrant. For this reason at first they come to Europe with travel visa and then stay until they get permanent residence even though their visas are expired long time ago. Or they sneak into Europe by boat and wait until the day comes. Native people in the country, thus, get really irritated by illegal migrants enjoying excellent-built European cities and social system without paying tax or being responsible for any kind of citizen's obligation. Sometimes they had to pay more tax to assist illegal migrants who later become legal.
- Integration that never comes true
Even though EU has tried to overcome language and cultural differences by investing enormous tax into it, migrants Refused to assimilate and developed their own culture creating the “ghettos.”. Series of those stubbornness led to conflict between natives and migrants. Another reason that hindered integration was that there are some criminal cases, which are actually not a real crime in migrants’ home country or vice versa. The cases are such as honor killing, children rape, drinking alcohol, and homosexuality.
- Recession makes it worse
Just before the refugee issued, Greece bankruptcy and various economic crisis in EU had been serious issues. In the beginning, EU’s system itself was blamed for recession but soon among EU citizens the voices blaming migrants for EU’s depression and high rate of unemployment were raised. In fact, most of the migrants work as a maid, waiter, cashier, factory laborer etc which EU citizens reluctant to have. Nevertheless, they complain that they have paid so much tax for migrant policy so far and the migrants never help them but snatch their jobs. They insist that the government expel even lawful migrants. Sadly, such opinion is abused by politicians and it expands and exaggerated. In this way, many European states have been really aggressive and hostile to migrants. This kind of anger is also heading to hatred. For example, one German politician mentioned in his book ‘Germany is Abolishing Itself’: migrants lower our average intelligence. Of course every kind of Neo-Nazis is gaining ground over the continent.
Changed direction in immigration policy
According to EU citizens’ demand for conservative policy over migrants, conservative parties have won in the series of new elections in most of EU states. Consequently many countries which have been accepting many migrants including asylum seekers like UK, France, Germany, and Sweden are preparing for the next stage of nationalism curbing migrant benefits by fixing related policies such as reducing financial support and stricter immigration process. In addition, many EU states changed their direction of migrant policy from multiculturalism to assimilationism. It means Europe has admitted that multiculturalism is almost failure.
In this context, huge number of Syrian refugees heading to Europe is a serious problem for EU. Even if the refugees were perfectly qualified as migrants, it would be challenging because EU was just about to steer its wheel to nationalism.
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