European Migration Regimes in Times of Crises

Import Deport

We’ve all been hearing since at least 2015 about Europe’s ‘migration crisis’. But Europe doesn’t have a migration ‘crisis’. What it’s had over the past nine years or more is a series of political crises, with ‘migration’ being used over and over again to deflect and distract from the much deeper problems assailing Europe.

The entire political and media establishment connives to keep migration at the top of the agenda. For example, for months in Ireland, the media and politicians have bombarded the public with non-stop talk about immigration. They tell us, very solemnly and regretfully, that we need to have an ‘honest’ conversation about migration. We have no choice.

But we all know that the media and political mainstream are extremely good at ignoring things when they want to. You could have 10,000 people on the streets demanding housing for all, and they wouldn’t mention it. So why are they so eager to have this conversation?

It’s obvious: if you’re talking about immigration, then you’re not talking about housing, health, or the fact that your state serves the interests of transnational capital and not its citizens. You’re obscuring the real reasons that people are poorer, more precarious, and angrier, making it less likely that they will organise to begin to address them.

Britain is a decade ahead of Ireland in this game. They’ve been consumed by a ‘conversation’ about migration for ten years or more. Savage austerity was let off the hook. And while the establishment was busy being ‘honest’ about migration, child poverty skyrocketed – Britain now has the highest child poverty rates of any high-income country in the OECD. British children are now shorter than the EU average because so many of them are malnourished. The housing system is utterly broken, and people are literally hounded to death by a welfare system that hates them. Austerity is now entrenched as a permanent policy. Monies for basic services such as health care, food support,, and child care have been sacrificed to the military budget. Only the rich are getting richer off the back of it. Yet immigration levels remained unchanged. This ‘conversation’, this ‘crisis’ is a bait and switch. It’s no wonder the political and media mainstream loves it. Meanwhile, in the EU, the new Migration Pact will be a bonanza for the arms and security industry that profits so handsomely from the wars and instability that cause people to leave their homes in the first place. It won’t stop migration, but it will kill more people who have no choice but to leave where they are to try and find safety and security for themselves and their families. Those who support this deal know this and have knowingly signed off on a deal that will kill many, many people, including children. They’ve signed off on a deal that will imprison children and lock up families.. They’ve signed off on a deal that will see yet another massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. More public money going straight into the pockets of the defence and arms industries. Yet another payday for their wealthy shareholders. Despite the struggling economies of the EU, particularly for working people, more billions will be spent on walls and drones and spy tech, on contractors and consultants and border guards, on all the expensive and deadly trappings of pushback, detention, and surveillance. Billions will be taken from the things we need – housing, health, education, childcare, all while savaging human rights.

The Publisher Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research is a network of research institutions in the Global South guided by popular movements.