The approval on June 18 by the European Parliament (click on T6-0293) of a common EU policy on illegal immigration is going to fail for a very simple reason — there is a market for these types of immigrants and because they provide bad employers a chance to cheat the system and slash overheads. The EU has an estimated 8 million illegal immigrants.
In sum, the stricter stance adopted by the EU Parliament is nothing more than a red herring, a misleading clue to a very complex problem.
As you know, two more directives are also awaiting approval by the EU Parliament: 1) promote legal skilled immigration through through the so-called “Blue Card” directive; and 2) punish employers who hire illegal immigrants.
Just like some employers are hiring and exploiting illegal immigrants in the EU, politicians in the region are bringing up the issue by promoting ineffective get-tough stances to score political brownie points from their voters. They dare to take such a cowardice stance because those they attack do not have the rights to defend themselves nor do they vote. It is like a giant bullying a crippled midget.
If I were serious about clamping down on illegal immigrants, I’d go after the businesses and the criminal gangs that assist these people. Why don’t politicians get as tough on these big and small businesses? A little bit of investigative journalism could reveal a lot.
The first time I met an illegal immigrant in Finland was in the 1980s. He was a Mexican cook who was brought from his native country to work and be exploited by a popular Helsinki restaurant at the time.
While we should follow laws, what happens if the laws we pass are flawed and create a broken immigration system that permits many companies in the EU to operate with impunity in exploiting undocumented workers? What about if these laws cause human rights violations and encourage countries with questionable immigration policies to lower their standards, as Amnesty International pointed out.
The United States is a good example of how tough immigration laws can create a mess. Here is what an International Herald Tribune editorial wrote about illegal immigration on July 22, 2008:
There is nothing good about America’s merciless campaign of immigration enforcement. But at least there are emerging signs of resistance from one of the most important players in the debate: employers…
…But business has begun pushing back. In some states, business groups have helped to kill tough immigration bills. They argue that they need workers, and that it is too hard to avoid hiring undocumented ones, and that ill-conceived laws go overboard in punishing well-meaning companies and their legal employees…
…If America is every going to emerge from the immigration chaos, it will be because business interests finally joined the fight.
Let’s hope that when they fight, they lobby against abusing immigrants.
EU laws will probably face the same fate as punitive immigration laws in the United States because, like it or not, illegal immigrants offer an economic incentive for the region. While the new EU directive gives police greater detention powers, up to 18 months — it still falls far short from resolving the matter because it does not address the issue effectively.