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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More