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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora