News / Europe

Economic Hard Times Increase Immigration Tensions in Europe

Hard Times Worsen Immigration Tension in Europei
X
April 05, 2013 2:11 PM
While the U.S. Congress has reached an agreement on providing legal status to some undocumented workers, the issue of immigration remains volatile in many parts of the world - particularly in Europe, where economic hard times are exacerbating old tensions. VOA Europe Correspondent Al Pessin reports.
Hard Times Worsen Immigration Tension in Europe
Al Pessin
The United States is not the only country engaged in the emotionally charged debate over immigration. The issue remains volatile in many parts of the world -- particularly in Europe, where economic hard times are exacerbating old tensions.

Amid Rome’s many architectural splendors sits an unassuming doorway. It leads to a counseling center for immigrants, run by the Catholic Church.  These people, some from the European Union and some from elsewhere, have been hit by the economic crisis.  Some face unemployment without government aid, and some will have to return to their home countries.

To make matters worse, they face the anger of many in Italy and other European countries: they are blamed for continuing high unemployment among local citizens and other economic problems.

At the church-sponsored Migration Study Center, Father Rene Manenti knows the problem well.

"Every time there is a crisis, it’s easier to point the finger at the immigrants for a simple reason.  If we point the finger at ourselves, then it’s going to be our fault.  ‘I am responsible for that.’  If I point the finger at them, they are responsible.  So, it’s not me, it’s them," he explained.

That outlook had a big impact on a recent election to fill a vacant seat in the British parliament - in which a party advocating Britain's exit from the European Union came in a surprising second.  Among other things, the UK Independence Party wants to freeze immigration and end the easy access now provided to people from EU countries.

But experts say the blame placed on immigrants is exaggerated.

"Of course, reality, as usual, is more complicated.  There are situations in which probably, or most likely, immigrants take jobs away from Italian people.  In many cases, immigrants take jobs that Italians don’t want to take for different reasons," said Father Rene Manenti.

He added that those reasons include low pay, long hours and hard physical labor, like farm work.

Indeed, the free flow of labor was part of the original concept of the European Union.  And economically, its impact is “broadly neutral,” according to professor John Salt, co-director of the Migration Center at University College London.  But Salt does worry about the long-term effect of large numbers of low-income workers flowing into Europe’s stronger economies.

"It’s not sustainable given the knock-on effect on land use, housing pressure, water availability, energy consumption, energy production for that matter," he said.

It’s an issue Europe will continue to struggle with as people from the weaker EU economies look for jobs in the stronger ones, and people from outside the EU continue to see moving there as a better option than staying at home.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs