Europe


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!

The Migration Policy Institute published its top ten migration stories of 2006. Topping the list: Europe’s turn from multiculturalism in immigration policy and insisting on strict assimilation of new arrivals.

In 2006, European politicians dealt multiculturalism numerous public blows, which the media was only too happy to cover. Multiculturalism, policymakers essentially said, has failed to adequately integrate immigrants and their descendants.

Since the late 1990s, Europe’s emphasis on strict integration policy has increased: learn our language, our history, our culture, and live by our laws and values. The UK, which didn’t require a citizenship test until 2005, fully implemented the test this year, and Germany’s regional governments introduced tests on top of the 600-hour, federally mandated language courses.

The article continues with Netherlands’ stricter laws and contraversial DVD, as well as Denmark’s cartoon of Muhammed.

Multiculturalism’s abandonment may seem practical, new immigrant populations not weaving themselves into the fabric of society. But something should be kept in mind: ordinary Europeans do not make an effort to welcome new immigrants. Most North Africans and Muslims in France (many of whom are citizens by birth) are excluded from top professions, and they are pushed to the banlieus (the peripheries of cities) where they live among other immigrants, not ‘typical’ Frenchmen.

The other problem is defining what a citizen is. The Dutch DVD tells immigrants to expect public kissing and topless sunbathing. OK, tolerance should be expected. However, there is no single Dutchman: such a thing exists in the imagination, and differences require tolerance anyway.

Actually, Jack Straw’s comments, quoted in the article, surprised me:

Communities are bound together partly by informal chance relations between strangers, people being able to acknowledge each other in the street or being able to pass the time of day. That’s made more difficult if people are wearing a veil. That’s just a fact of life.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Out in public, identities are challenged as people with differing ideas and comportments confront one another. Acknowledging this seems to indicate acceptance of cultural differences. But the burqa as an obstacle? What is Straw looking for: beedy, deviant eyes?

I’m not against integration, but multiculturalism should, and could, be a policy that allows it to happen, creating an environment in which communities fuse together, their differences, without being destroyed, thinned out until they mix together.

Racial engineering, the type that hasn’t been seen in a while: the NY Times reports on a Gypsy family, removed from their homes due to threats of violence from their community in Slovenia, who have not been allowed to return:

The group, an extended family of 31 people, tried to return to Ambrus, a village 30 miles southeast of Ljubljana, after four weeks in a refugee center. But about 1,000 villagers and other residents of the area assembled, blocked roads leading to the village and then battled riot police officers. Officials then persuaded the family, the Strojans, to turn back. …

The government said it was justified in moving the family to the refugee center, saying that it had acted to protect the Strojans. But human rights groups contend that ministers sanctioned the mob’s ouster of members of a minority group from their homes. The government had promised to resettle the group, but a plan to move them to a suburb of Ljubljana, the capital, foundered when residents there protested.

An actual immigration bill? The Boston Globe‘s Rick Klein says that, despite expectations that the Democratic majority in Congress will ignore the issue, sensible reform may be more possible than ever.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who is set to take the chairmanship of the subcommittee that oversees immigration issues, has already met with leading Republicans — including Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee’s top Republican — to begin crafting a new bill early next year. “The dynamics are right,” said Kennedy, who worked closely with McCain and others on the immigration bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. “With a new Congress, we have an opportunity to pass our plan to secure our borders, uphold our laws, and strengthen our economy.”

Perhaps even more important, Republicans have moved more moderate voices into positions that signal a shift against the hardline attitude on immigration.

In a signal of the Republican Party’s shifting stance on the issue, the Republican National Committee will be now headed by Senator Mel Martinez of Florida — a Cuban immigrant who is a strong backer of the comprehensive bill passed by the Senate.

Sanctuary has been as contraversial as municipalities passing and enforcing their own immigration laws.  The LA Times covers threats that have emerged to its continuation.

Power of the Purse: Some immigrants in the US are attempting a “remittance boycott” to force the Mexican government to change is approach to Oaxaca. If successful, will immigrants become a voice for reform in their former country?

“Our voice is our money! Stop the repression!” Written on Spanish-language fliers distributed in downtown Los Angeles, the slogans urged Mexicans working in the United States to stop sending money home for three days to protest the Mexican government’s crackdown on dissenters in the southern state of Oaxaca.

If money talks, the Saturday-to-Monday boycott has the potential to speak volumes. Workers in the U.S. who are from Latin America send their relatives back home an average of $300 a month, or about 10 percent of their incomes, according to an October study by the Inter-American Development Bank.

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