European Angst Over Immigration

Although most of my European friends tilt toward the left of the political spectrum, immigration is an issue where they agree firmly and resolutely with the conservative perspective.

“They don’t speak the language. They don’t understand the culture. Many of them don’t work,” sniffs a French friend, who wants to see significant limits on the number of people allowed into France.

A longtime British diplomat notes that more than 50 percent of London residents were born outside the United Kingdom.

Even an Arab friend complains about those who wear Islamic garb in public.

If you think U.S. immigration is a mess, just take a look at Europe.

Demographers project more and more immigrants for decades to come. Annual net immigration into Europe is projected to increase steadily from current levels for another 20 years. This year, just over one million immigrants will arrive in Europe, according to Eurostat, the statistical agency of the E.U. That figure will reach nearly 1.5 million in 2036, the agency projects.

By 2080, these migrants and their families will have increased the population of the E.U. by 121 million, relative to what the continent’s population would be then without any immigration. The result will be a Europe that is substantially different than it is today.

For example, the number of European Christians is projected to decline by about 18 percent, to 454 million, by the middle of the century, according to the Pew Research Center. The organization predicts that the number of European Muslims will nearly double, to about 71 million.

In London, Brexit has stumbled along toward implementation, a policy that came about almost entirely as a rejection of the immigration policies of the E.U.
In Germany, Angela Merkel has had significant problems as a result of her open-door policy toward immigrants.

In France, the government has engaged in a significant crackdown on illegal immigrations. In a recent dispatch from Paris, The Associated Press notes that French President Emmanuel Macron, hardly a conservative, has launched significant changes in immigration policy.

“Critics contend that increasingly tough policy on migrants — though wrapped in a cloak of goodwill — contradicts his image as a humanist who defeated an anti-immigrant populist for the presidency, and has crossed a line passed by no other president in the land that prides itself as the cradle of human rights,” The AP says.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has ordered regional representatives of the state to crack down on illegal immigration, to act quickly to expel those who fail to gain asylum, and to report results immediately, according to a November order cited by the newspaper Le Monde.

Opposition to President Trump’s immigration policies may be getting a lot of bad press in the United States, but many of my European friends would welcome his approach in their own countries.