News

    London Bombings Renew Europe's Fears on Borders

    Along with fears of Islamic terrorism, the July 7 attacks in London - and new explosions Thursday in the British capital - are renewing European debates over immigration and asylum laws, and how to treat roughly 40 million foreigners living in the region. It is too early to say what the fallout will be. But some human rights groups fear the emergence of a fortress Europe with closed borders to foreigners. Others disagree.

    The London bombings have triggered soul searching about how to deal with second-generation immigrants in Europe, since those suspected of the July 7 attacks were all British citizens. But they are also renewing a long-simmering debate about how to screen and crack down on would-be first-generation immigrants as well.

    Europe has long had conflicted feelings toward immigration. Some Europeans believe the region needs more foreign workers, while nationalist groups argue foreigners are taking jobs away from locals.

    Now, a new factor has entered into the immigration equation: Fears of foreign-born terrorists.

    Those fears surfaced after the September 11th, 2001 attacks in the United States. Islamist terrorism has arrived in Europe as well, with 2004 bombings in Madrid, and this month's attacks in London.

    Patrick Delouvin is an immigration specialist at Amnesty International in France. He argues those terrorism fears have helped usher in tougher asylum and immigration measures in Europe.

    "Definitely, after the September 11th attacks, the Europeans thought about restricting immigration, restricting asylum," he said. "They have had many meetings to talk about it. And they began to take measures to restrict immigration on European territories. At the beginning for 15 states, but now for 25 [EU member] states."

    Mr. Delouvin says the French government has stepped up border controls to winnow out illegal immigrants and questionable asylum seekers. It is also working closely with foreign governments and airlines to tighten those controls.

    At the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris, for example, the numbers of people allowed to apply for asylum in France dropped from 10,000 in 2001 to only 2,500 last year. Five years ago, Mr. Delouvin says, 700,000 asylum seekers arrived in the European Union. Last year, less than half that number were admitted.

    Sergio Carrera, a justice and home affairs specialist at the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, says tougher asylum and immigration laws are part of a larger arsenal of security measures the European Union has been discussing to fight terrorism.

    Some of the proposed measures, he says, such as biometric passports and data bases to track questionable foreigners have been criticized for possibly violating human rights and personal freedom statutes of the European Union.

    "They [the new security measures] are sold because they intend to fight against terrorism," Mr. Carrera said. "They are intended to bring more security. They are going to prevent these things [terrorism] from happening again. But for me, its not really clear the extent to which these measures are going to be more effective. The extent to which these measures are going to improve security and insure liberty within the European Union."

    But the latest generation of terrorists includes many Europeans.

    For example, Zacharias Massaoui, the first person prosecuted in relation to the September 11th hijackings, had French nationality. The man accused of killing film-maker Theo Van Gogh last year was Dutch.

    Even Egyptian Mohammed Atta, who studied in Germany and was considered the ringleader in the September 11th attacks, may not have triggered suspicion by European immigration authorities. That, at least, is the assessment of Rainer Muenz, a demography specialist at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics.

    "Just think about Mohammed Atta," he said. "Someone who was studying at a technical university, coming from a middle-class background from an Arab country. If we had discussed him five years ago, we would have both agreed with many other people that Atta is exactly the type of migrant we will need in the future."

    Mr. Muenz says its too early to say whether the London attacks will translate into tougher European-wide immigration policies. In the case of Spain, the effect was the opposite. A year after the Madrid bombings, the leftist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero allowed hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to apply for legal status.

    "In the Spanish case, the effect was not in the direction you would expect, based on conventional wisdom - that they would be more serious on cracking down on immigrants," he said. "There has been the largest regularization campaign in Spanish history. You could say this has helped bring these people to the fore and make them more visible. It is a soft strategy."

    Other analysts doubt tougher immigration and asylum laws have much to do with new European fears of terrorism. French immigration expert Catherine de Wenden believes tougher asylum policies, for example, are in response to European concerns about bogus applicants.

    Ms. de Wenden is an immigration expert at the Center for International Studies and Research in Paris. She says more people from poor countries are seeking political asylum, when in fact they are economic refugees - and would be rejected as such under European immigration laws.

    For these and other reasons, Mrs. de Wenden believes that terrorist attacks have not had a direct impact on immigration flows. She says the profile of a terrorist is not that of a foreigner crossing the Straits of Gibraltar to Spain - as is the case of many illegal immigrants arriving in Europe. Rather, she says, many terrorists are well installed in the country they live in - and they have their immigration papers in order.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora