Two days ago I was skimming through my usual reading and came to the “editorial” from eKathimerini entitled “Dealing with illegal immigration“. Apart from the fact that it doesn’t deserve to be called an editorial due to its childish “analysis”, it is also dangerously racist and reactionary. It is not that I expect anything better from Kathimerini but I think on this occasion they are showing their true colours a little brighter than usual. It’s a short article but I’m going to break it down by paragraph to make it clearer what I mean by the statements I have made above.
Illegal immigration is the greatest challenge to Greece’s national security at the present time.
There has been a trend in recent years to link immigration with national security. This deliberate ploy is aimed at scaring citizens into equating immigrants with terrorism. This subconsciously conjures up images of scary Muslims, suicide bombers, evil brown people swarming into the country with the aim of taking over. This is what we have been brow beaten into believing, in the same way as we link the word “immigrant” with “illegal” without thought.
We readily forget that the greatest threat to national security, both here and abroad, has always been from the countries own citizens.
Officials at the Citizens’ Protection Ministry appear to have realized the magnitude of the problem. As a result, they are trying to coordinate and mobilize the entire state apparatus in an attempt to deal with the domestic repercussions of this global phenomenon.
For years the authorities have been told by pretty much everyone that the system is broken. Immigration continues and increases due to old and new conflicts but the system for dealing with it has either not been put in place or has been broken and corrupt for decades. Funds given to the country to deal with immigration have disappeared and the country has had an “if we ignore it, it’ll go away” attitude since mass immigration began almost 20 years ago. No attempt has been made to even discuss what it means. For years, Greece has benefited from illegal immigration for cheap labour. Excessively low wages for long hours, dangerous working conditions, no health or pension payments in fact, no working standards at all. Now that the middle, and even some of the upper classes, are being affected by the financial crisis, we start to hear the roar against immigrants who are “taking all the jobs” and “ruining the country”.
The domestic repercussions that they are attempting to deal with is a direct result of the inactivity and corruption that has occurred for the last two decades. The sum total of the effort to “deal” with the problem is currently rounding up large numbers of immigrants and deporting them. Allowing “concerned citizens” to take to the streets with their anti-immigrant ranting. Stirring up public fear of immigrants in general. In the meantime, the immigrants themselves are feeling the desperation of the situation getting worse everyday. They are utterly trapped by the system, unable to obtain any proper papers and living in fear of the police and deportation.
I have read thousands and thousands of words about how out of control immigration is but very little about the causes. I have heard a tidal wave of complaints that Greece is unable to cope, that it is a small country, it doesn’t have the resources and that it is being “over-run” by immigrants. I have read little about the fact that there is no system put in place, despite money that has been taken to do so. Little about the fact that the asylum system is practically non-existent. Little about the lack of provision made for immigrant integration. How on earth anyone believed that doing nothing was the best solution, is beyond me.
Their reaction, albeit long-delayed, is a positive development, as the growing presence in a number of neighborhoods in the center of Athens of large groups of illegal immigrants is starting to take on unmanageable proportions. This country can no longer cope with the existing influx of illegal immigrants, which now stands at some 100,000 a year.
Again, conjuring up scary images of swarming packs of “illegals” and ignoring the desperate situation that has been created by the previous 20 years of inactivity by successive governments. There is practically no way that a non-European citizen can legally apply to live and work in Europe. To escape war, conflict, persecution, famine, poverty and suffering, people will do anything they can to secure a better life for themselves in the infinitely wealthier Europe. No serious effort has been made by Europe to invest in the lives of the people that they themselves put in this wretched situation so now it must deal with the consequences. Thousands of people trying to get into this exclusive club. And Greece is on the front-line of that because of its borders but has squandered opportunities to be effective in the face of reality. Immigration is not going to stop. It’s time to start being grown-up about it and deal with the issues at hand. A proper system for identifying asylum seekers and refugees. A transparent system for applying for work and residency permits. Advice and support services. Integration programmes. And so on. It shouldn’t be left to a few ngos and church groups and sympathetic individuals to deal with the situation that has been in development for two decades.
As for the other officials in George Papandreou’s Socialist administration, they must finally realize that the issue not only concerns the police but also the ministries of Defense and the Foreign, which also have to take action as soon as possible.
The “journalist” seems to be mightily keen on the idea of bringing in the big boys, defence and foreign affairs. And what are they going to do that is not being done already? Start shooting people at the borders? Blowing up boats? I suppose they will just be rounding up more people than they do already. Condemning them to sub-standard prisons for years and deporting them, without any access to legal assistance or support. And hope that the “problem” goes away.
Well done, whoever you are that wrote this “editorial”. You have not only managed to write a piece that has no insight or intelligence but you’ve also managed to jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon without even pretending to care about the reality of situation.