Africans


Zêdess, a reggae artist from Burkina Faso, has launched a counterstrike against Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s interior minister, architect of its immigration policy, and would be successor to Chirac. Zêdess makes a mockery of Sarkozy’s immigration choisie–the desire to pick and choose between immigrants–comparing it to how slaves were sized up for sale. Moreover, he points out how Sarkozy’s own father was a refugee, fleeing to France in need, much as many Africans do today. If you know some basic French, it’s easy to follow, and it good fun!

A rather disheartening tale in the NY Times:

On the evening of Nov. 2, a young corporate lawyer in New Jersey received a frantic call from a charity client, a 46-year-old Harlem grocery clerk with a history of petty crime. He was in custody on an airplane in Newark on his way to Mogadishu, the capital of his native Somalia, a country so dangerous that to the lawyer’s knowledge, no one had been deported there in years.

The courts were closed, and a federal judge who heard an emergency motion the next day ruled that the clerk, Mohamad Rasheed Jama, was already outside United States jurisdiction.

So, after a stop in Nairobi, where he was handed over to Kenyans, Mr. Jama stepped off an airplane in Mogadishu — and into the hands of Islamist militants, who soon accused him of being an American spy and began demanding money.

“They were extremely angry,” said his lawyer, Emily B. Goldberg, relating the last frightened call she got from Mr. Jama, who had spent four years in immigration detention in New Jersey awaiting deportation to the land he left at 18. “He asked me if there was anything I could do. I told him in the American system, there was nothing more I could do.” …

If Jama, a refugee from a society broken by anarchy, cannot get a fair hearing, why should other immigrants? The administrations policy may point to increasing the number of immigrants in this country, but deportations also reveal that they are willing to jettison anyone on a moment’s notice, without recourse to the judicial system, without regard to what they might face at home. Indeed, the rights of immigrants, illegal and otherwise, are constantly undermined and obscurred. Their dependence on the government’s charity has become the sword of Damocles. However, the article suggests that attempting to exercise rights will only hasten deportation:

In the United States, lawyers for Somalis are asking whether Mr. Jama’s deportation signals the start of a mass deportation or a warning to those facing indefinite detention that “if you use habeas, you’ll be on the next flight,” said Jeffrey Keyes, the Minneapolis lawyer who argued the Supreme Court case.

Interesting phenomenon in immigration to Europe: the use of French overseas territories as  places of entry.  At a congress of French mayors, the mayors from overseas territories complained that they were being overwhelmed by clandestins (aka, illegal immigrants).  And their presence is affecting the public mood, raising hostility.  As one mayor put it:

There is a real sentiment of xenophobia developing in Guyana.  Until now, the people have respected the laws of the Republic.  But the day will come when they will take justice into their own hands.  It suits them to re-establish the authority of the state in the territories. [Translation mine]

Mayotte, among the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean, is particuarly overwhelmed, becoming a magnet for would be immigrants from the region.  Many of these come from the Comoros, an indepedent nation in the same chain of islands.  The Comorians, however, could work toward French citizenship by jus soli, their nation having once been part of France.  But they want to be able immediately to claim citizenship on the basis of birth, as the people of Mayotte have.  These municipalities, as well as those in Guyana and Guadeloupe, need more resources for the incoming immigrants; France offers only resources to combat their entry.

Polish Diaspora: As Poles are taking advantage of EU’s single employment market, employers at home find that they need to import labor from other parts of Europe. Another situation in which economic growth really benefits those with moderate education (see the U-Curve below).

This is the “second” Poland, a diaspora of 800,000 Poles estimated by officials here to have left the country since it joined the European Union in May 2004. The exodus is believed to be one of the largest migrations by Europeans since the 1950s, when a wave of Irish crossed the Atlantic to escape poverty. But in Poland, this huge movement of people has created a labor shortage so severe that the government may not be able to spend the money that is due to begin arriving in January from the European Union for projects like improving roads and the water supply.

[One] factor in the unemployment rate is the mismatch between jobs and workers. Krystyna Iglicka, a migration expert and sociologist at the Center for International Relations in Warsaw, says that Poland’s education system failed in the 1990s to train enough skilled workers, including engineers and craftsmen. “The trendy professions were marketing and services, not focusing on vocational or technical skills,” Ms. Iglicka said. “Vocational and technical schools were closed, teachers were made redundant. We are now paying the price.”

So critical is the shortage of welders and shipbuilders for Poland’s shipping industry that Poland and Germany are close to an accord that would allow unemployed workers from northern German ports to work in Poland.

(more…)

The Guardian reports on the industry that has grown around clandestine immigration from West Africa to Spain.  Areas of Senegal are becoming ports of call for Africans who, throwing caution to the wind, board flimsy vessels with the hope of reaching the nearest piece of European soil.

 Now the village [of Diogue] economy has found a new source of income: emigration. The hopefuls have to stock up on water, food and other supplies for the voyage, which can take two weeks. There are bargains to be had as the young men who are leaving sell anything they will not be needing where they are going – local currency is exchanged for euros at less than the going rate and mobile phones are dirt cheap. Many struggling fishermen have sold their pirogues to people-smugglers. But once the money has been spent, they find themselves with no way to make a living.

Africans are making harrowing journeys out into the ocean, hoping to find their way to the Canary Islands.  These trips are make-or-break propositions, costing a lifetime’s savings, and threatening lives themselves.

Forsten, Edward and Isaac are a little less fearless. They are from Ghana, but have been in Gambia for the past year, working on a building site to save the 400,000 CFA francs, the currency of Senegal and other former French colonies, charged for the trip to Europe (about £400).

All Forsten has with him is a half-filled plastic bag of his belongings. He is aware of the dangers of going to Spain in a pirogue, but he says that he has no choice – his life in Ghana is little more than a day-to-day struggle for survival, ‘and I can’t see that ever changing’.

Edward and Isaac managed to get on a boat leaving from Diogue, and were off the coast of Mauritania when a huge storm blew up. Everyone in the boat – including the ‘captain’ – was so terrified that they decided to head back to Senegal. Two people died in the course of the voyage from exhaustion and sickness. Their bodies were thrown overboard. ‘It was like we had become animals,’ Edward says afterwards. ‘I realised that it wasn’t worth degrading ourselves, and risking our lives just to get to Europe, even though it means the end of our hopes of finding a way out of the dead end we are in. There is no work for us back home.’ They know that the jobs they left in Gambia to go to Diogue will have been filled by others.

Not only have they lost their dream of a better life, Edward and Isaac have also lost the money that they had worked for a year to save up – the man who organised the voyage refused to reimburse them. Now they set off on the long journey back to Ghana. Isaac has a Spanish phrasebook tucked into his plastic bag. Will they make another attempt, once they have got some more money together? ‘When we were on that boat we saw into the pit,’ he says. ‘We were so tightly packed in there that no one could move. There were a number of us who couldn’t speak to anyone, because we didn’t share the same language. After the storm the supplies of food and water began to run out. Most of us had never been at sea before. We were ill and scared, and then the people started dying…’ His voice trails off. ‘I can’t describe how awful it was. Nothing is worth that.’

Read the article for more testimonials.

Spain figured it out: “the health of the economy depends to a great extent on immigrants“!

LA BONNE SANTÉ de l’économie espagnole dépend en grande partie des immigrés. Telle est la conclusion du rapport sur le poids de l’immigration dans les finances du pays, présentée cette semaine par le bureau économique de la présidence du gouvernement. Réalisée par Miguel Sebastian, principal créateur du programme économique du Parti socialiste espagnol (PSOE) et candidat à la municipalité de Madrid, cette étude entend balayer les clichés sur le rôle néfaste de l’immigration dans la société espagnole. Elle cherche également à faire taire les critiques des opposants aux régularisations de clandestins.

8% of the population, that add 4.7 billion euros to the economy after consumption of public services is accounted for. The results are staggering: “half of the growth of the Spanish economy is the fruit of immigrants’ work.”

Fighting for the short end of the stick? Meetings like this reinforce the sense that poor citizens have something to fear from immigrants, illegal or otherwise. Really, they could use the same arguments to limit legal immigration.

– More than a dozen Charlotteans, many frustrated with growth of the illegal immigrant immigration population, met Saturday to discuss how African Americans are impacted by the growth of the undocumented community.

Maria Macon, chairwoman of the Millions More Movement of Charlotte, which hosted the event at Spencer Memorial United Methodist Church, said that, until now, African American voices have been mostly left out of the immigration debate.

Tensions exist between some groups of African Americans and Hispanics over competition for jobs, decreased wages and the disbanding of certain historically black neighborhoods.

Queen Thompson, 60, worries about a strain on schools and hospitals.

“There must be some regulation on the number of people who can come to a community,” said Thompson, a counseling psychologist.

Limiting access to the community is such a pre-modern idea. After all, in a m0dern republic, anyone can live anywhere because citizenship is granted by the state, and the only meaningful community to which the individual belongs is the nation.

The article continues:

The symposium also demonstrated that illegal immigration issues extend beyond Latin America.

Rosaline Russell, a native of Liberia, said many people from Africa come to the United States in search of a better life.

“It’s not just a Hispanic issue,” said Russell, 29, who moved to the United States eight years ago and is now a U.S. citizen. “It’s also a West Africa issue, an Africa issue. It’s an everybody issue.”

Macon said African-Americas are suffering economically because of the growth of the illegal immigrant community, but that the groups can work together to improve lives and working conditions.

“It’s important that we speak up because we have gone through some of the same things the Hispanic community is going through,” she said.