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Migrants and migrations in Europe

category international | migration / racism | policy statement author Monday February 15, 2010 19:40author by European Anarkismo Conference - Anarkismo Report this post to the editors
As internationalists we are against any kind of boundary or barrier between people and we oppose the reinforcement of boundaries around EU. We will fight any kind of racism and xenophobia as a factor of division within the working class and as a major problem in itself. We will fight any kind of discrimination towards migrants and coloured people. [Français] [Italiano] [Ελληνικά] [Nederlands]

Migrants and migrations in Europe

As anarchist-communists and internationalists, we support the right of everyone to move and live wherever they want. We oppose any kind of boundaries between people, either physical or psychological (racism, xenophobia).

As the situation in Europe gets worse and worse every year, we have to make it a central piece of our activity and propaganda.

1° Capitalism and imperialism as causes of migrations

As a result of changes in the world's social, economic and political structure, the last half-century has seen an unprecedented (in modern times) level of migration into Europe.

Three factors are particularly salient in accounting for this surge in migration:

  • the neo-colonization that followed the so-called "decolonisation"; the economic and political interests of the former ruling countries are still in place, through dictatorships subjected to Western countries.

  • the forceful expansion of global markets since the 1970s. By a variety of coercive means, more and more of the earth's population, and their means of subsistence, has been integrated into an uneven global web. Regions that have proved economically unviable to international capital are left destitute, while regions rich in natural resources fall prey to political instability, despotic regimes, or aggression.

  • the imperialism of Western countries that brings war and terror in many countries, today in Iraq and Afghanistan, tomorrow elsewhere.
As a result many people do not see the possibility for a future in their own homeland, and are spurred to move elsewhere. In many cases, the money they get is the main or the only income for the villages they come from, because Western countries' policies have prevented any other economic activity from growing.

2° The increase of State racism and racist policies

In recent years, xenophobia, racism, and fear of the economic impact of migrations have risen to dominate the political debates of many European countries.

This is because restrictive legislation which criminalizes migrants, sensationalist reports in the press detailing crimes committed by immigrants, and the inflammatory rhetoric of politicians all aggravate popular xenophobic sentiment. People are led to believe that immigration undermines their standard of living and poses a serious threat to social stability. As such the criminalisation of migrants also serves to distract attention from the real social and economic problems wrought by capitalism, and provides legitimacy to increasingly repressive states.

More recently, in some countries such as France and Switzerland, governments have tried to accuse migrants of subverting the national culture and "national identity", by bringing their own culture and religions, and have introduced laws against them, mostly based on the new trend of racism that is Islamophobia.

As a consequence of this propaganda, migrants and people of colour in general suffer greatly from discrimination when looking for work or accommodation. As anarchist communists, we oppose every kind of discrimination based on colour or origin, as well as on class or gender.

The issue has revitalized reactionary forces and facilitated an expansion of the powers of the State. Detention, surveillance, aggressive policing and the curtailing of civil liberties are increasingly widespread. Xenophobia has popularized parties whose neo-liberal agenda would otherwise be unpalatable to working people. The rhetoric employed by such parties in turn serves to inflame xenophobic sentiments and weaken international class solidarity for the benefit of nationalism.

As libertarian socialists opposed to class exploitation and the State, it is important that we develop a thorough analysis of this issue, and find effective means to combat the growth of xenophobia, repressive State policies aimed at migrants, and the inhumane treatment of refugees. In addition, we must attempt to relate such struggles to the wider class struggle in Europe, so as to reinvigorate the internationalist current in the organisations of the working class.

3° European State and EU Policies against migrants

A – European State Policies

Immigration is an inevitable effect of the economic and military policies conducted by European states; the concerted efforts to prevent it are the result of racism and an unwillingness to face the consequences at home.

The response from the erstwhile heralds of globalisation has been to adopt a range of measures aimed at preventing migration. Europe has adopted common migration frameworks, signed treaties regulating the rights of refugees, and strengthened migration controls at Europe's periphery. The underlying assumption has been that these people must be kept out. In the process of restricting immigration, European countries have violated international human rights conventions.

International law places the majority of migrants in a kind of limbo. Most European states do not allow work immigration (with the partial exception of migration within Europe), and a great many migrants do not qualify for protection as refugees. Access to legal employment is difficult to achieve. Some countries have even employed quotas and "chosen immigration" policies, granting access only to migrants whose skills are needed by the local bosses.

The need for workers to take menial jobs has led to an increase in illegal labour under conditions far below those of the wider working class. This also serves to depress wages and working conditions across the board. Capitalists have actually managed to use policies on migrations to obtain a cheap workforce.

On top of that, European states have adopted policies that severely curtail the rights of migrants.

The use of detention is widespread, with people whose legal status is not yet decided, or whose applications have been rejected, facing detention for extended periods of time. Essentially, the legal framework around migration criminalizes the migrant. Most dramatically, the detention and persecution of migrants in Europe is causing immense suffering and fostering the growth of an underclass of non-citizens.

B – European Union & Schengen Area Policies

European Union and Schengen Area policies are particularly involved in the closure of boundaries, through programmes such as The Hague programme and the EU's ad hoc agency Frontex, whose work is entirely based on the idea that immigration and migrants are problems. This agency is in charge of a European border police force that carries out repressive operations (like collective arrests and deportations) without any control.

The policy of "outsourcing asylum" (keeping potential asylum seekers detained in states like Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Libya, etc, to prevent them from coming to Europe) has brought the EU into close co-operation with states whose treatment of detainees and human rights records are unacceptable. For instance the European Union cooperates with the Libyan dictatorship in order to keep migrants out of Europe.

4° Migrant Struggles

Migrants are not only the victims of State and EU racism, but of capitalist exploitation as well. As such, they are just like other workers, which is why we should never pit one against the other. If we truly believe that an injury to one is an injury to all, we should try to spread migrant struggles to other workers.

While migrants, and especially illegal migrants, do not want to show themselves too much and therefore may be reluctant to struggle openly, it can occur, when class solidarity surpasses fear of the other and mean nationalism.

For example, the strikes by illegal migrants in France (Spring 2008, Autumn-Winter 2009) would not have showed up if a couple of teams within national unions (CGT, SUD, CNT) and associations did not support them. This is why revolutionary activists have a role to play in the birth of such struggles. As anarchist-communists and internationalists, we support such struggles. They are an opportunity to fight against capitalism, racism and nationalism at the same time.

We have to struggle in favour of the free movement of all people, whoever they are.

In the short term, however, it is important to support any migrant struggles that can popularise such struggles, such as supporting illegal migrants' children's equal right to education.

Neither the class struggle nor the humanist way of fighting against anti-migrant policies are the key solution in themselves, but both are a fundamental part of an internationalist strategy.


As anarchist-communist organisations we support:
  • freedom of movement and equal rights for all;
  • the right for all to live and work in the country of one's choice, with one's family;
  • the end of arbitrary arrests;
  • the closure of all detention centres;
  • an end to deportations;
  • the regularisation of all illegal migrants;
  • the right of asylum;
  • the abrogation of all European directives and agreements.
As internationalists we are against any kind of boundary or barrier between people and we oppose the reinforcement of boundaries around EU. We will fight any kind of racism and xenophobia as a factor of division within the working class and as a major problem in itself. We will fight any kind of discrimination towards migrants and coloured people.

Alternative Liberataire (France)
Counter Power (Norway)
Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici (Italy)
Liberty & Solidarity (Great Britain)
Organisation Socialiste Libertaire (Switzerland)
Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)

Paris, 7 February 2010

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