Monday, January 23, 2006

US vs. EU: who is more progressive?

EU tries to construct an image of a soft power alternative to that of the US who, in the perception of those Europeans who oppose its policies, violates international law invading other countries (i.e. Iraq), still has capital punishment etc. Europe has abolished death penalty and, at least as far the German-French alliance is concerned and the majority of EU population, insists on respecting international legal norms.

Is the image of the two global powers black and white as it seems to the Europeans? Many left-wing Europeans would without thinking too much respond affirmatively: Americans are the “badies” we are much better. Nevertheless, as far as immigration regulation is concerned US remains much more progressive than Europe, despite the fences all along the border with Mexico.

Namely, on December 16th, 2005, US House of Representatives passed by 239 to 182 a bill sponsored by James Sensenbrenner, Republican from Wisconsin. The “Border Protection, Antiterrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005” (H.R. 4437), if passed by the Senate, would make illegal immigration to the US a felony, create a crime of employing or aiding undocumented migrants, and order “physical infrastructure enhancements”, i.e. strengthening the fences at the border with Mexico probably aspiring to emulate the Israeli model.

Among its many provisions, H.R. 4437 would:

-Make it harder for legal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

-Disrupt American communities and put all Americans at risk by broadening the definition of smuggling to include anyone who aids or transports an undocumented immigrant.

-Make everyone who comes to the U.S. to work subject not only to deportation but also imprisonment.

-Disrupt the U.S. economy by creating an overly broad and retroactive employment verification system without creating legal channels for needed workers to work lawfully.

Some of the most ferocious anti-immigrant House Representatives even proposed the elimination of birthright citizenship for babies born in the U.S. and an amendment to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border.

This bill, however, has a really slim chance passing the Senate. Moreover, it neither has support of the Bush administration, which, true enough, did decide to spend more money on reinforcing the fences towards the South, but simultaneously campaigned for legalisation of some 10 million undocumented aliens (mostly Latino origin) who live in the US.

What does, Liberal Europe, from the aforementioned, black and white picture do? Not only that some of the EU member states already have illegal immigration as an integral part of their penal code, they confront the Balkan states with a following condition: if you want us to place you on the “White Shenghen list” (i.e. free visa regime), then you have to make violation of EU immigration regulations a criminal act. Balkan states are obviously not in a position to negotiate and will consequently (some of them already did) comply with such EU imposition. Such policies are wrong and in striking contrast with the image EU wishes to portray.

Undocumented aliens are not criminals, they are indeed “heroes” as Mexican President Vicente Fox called them. They represent most valuable parts of the sending states, people who in search for a better life are ready to surmount any obstacle, even if that entails risking prison sentences once illegal immigration is proclaimed a felony. Stupid, paranoid laws such as that will certainly not stop immigration, neither will the fences. Governments embarking on such projects are only foolishly spending the money of their tax-payers not recognizing that their laws will be inevitably obliterated by the passage of time. As it is today with slavery, one day in fifty or hundred years time, our children will be reading history books, wandering how their ancestors could insist on inhumane and discriminatory immigration restrictions. Moreover, they will be shocked by the ignorance of their ancestors who did not recognize that immigration is an asset and not threat to our communities. We Europeans have to recognize, on this Americans beat us.

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