Immigration: Hypocrisy, ideology and expediency

Thousands of Africans and other migrants are stranded in Lampedusa. Italian and European Union institutions appear helpless. What can be done?

President Emmanuel Macron of France responded swiftly by tightening French-Italian border controls to prevent migrants from entering French territory. Such actions seem hypocritical, given that Mr. Macron endlessly speaks of European solidarity and often points the finger at Italy and Central European nations for their migration policies.

Welfare, integration and political maneuvering

Germany, once the champion of Willkommenskultur, has already strengthened border controls with Austria and France and is now increasing security around Poland and the Czech Republic. Italy is increasingly isolated. The European Commission has responded by drafting policies that would allow countries to keep asylum-seeking migrants in camps for longer. The German Greens, part of the ruling coalition in Germany, tried opposing this move but were overruled by their coalition partners. While the new European legislation might work as an emergency measure, it does not address the root cause of the problem.

The core issue seems to be the widespread perception that life is better in Europe thanks to social security systems, primarily in Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. For many, this is an irresistible attraction, but it is based on misconceptions.

It has come to light that many migrants on German soil send a portion of their social security benefits back to their home countries. These remittance payments have become a significant source of income for some North African nations. Clearly, this was not the original intention behind the German social security system. As a result, there is a growing debate about restricting these remittances.


The European Union has not been able to find middle ground.


It is essential to clarify that refugees facing threats to their lives and freedom under authoritarian systems, similar to the former Soviet Union, should be welcomed. However, they should respect and adapt to the customs and laws of their host countries. After all, they sought refuge in these nations believing them to be safer and superior to their own. Europe does need regulated migration to counteract its aging population, but it must be controlled, and migrants should contribute positively to the economy.

Yet, the stringent job protections in many European countries can make migrant integration into the workforce challenging. If someone lacks work experience yet earns a significant minimum salary, and if it is challenging to dismiss such an unskilled individual, why would a prudent business consider hiring them? Economist Milton Friedman put it best: “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.” The primary incentive for migrants should be to integrate and contribute to the host country rather than just receiving welfare benefits. This is the debate facing Europe now.

The European Union has not been able to find middle ground. Ideas like a quota system for distributing – often unwanted – migrants among member countries are ill-conceived. Penalizing nonparticipating nations is equally misguided.

What might work better? Enhanced control by Frontex, initiating controlled immigration procedures in migrants’ countries of origin and easing labor laws for more business flexibility. Immigrants must understand and respect the traditions and rules of their host nations.

At the same time, it is critical to approach with caution the agendas of certain ideologues, like the self-proclaimed “progressive” German Greens. They will likely exploit public compassion for immigrants to advance their political motives.


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