European Union Immigration Policy: repression as the better way to exploit

Written by LCT – Belgium
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 12:33
On April 14, 550 immigrants sank in the Mediterranean Sea; only a third of them survived, and one week later another 700 “castaways” perished.
Recently, two asylum seekers whose applications were denied, and were forced to return to the country from which they fled, attempted suicide: a Guinean who is in critical condition, and a Moroccan who hanged himself. Such tragedies can not be regarded outside the restrictive policy on asylum and security by Belgium and by the European Union as a whole.
The wars and dictatorships in the Middle East and Africa, as well as the rise of fundamentalist Islamist organizations, are sowing terror in these regions and pushing millions of people to flee their countries. Part of these immigrants seek refuge in Europe, often in an illegal manner, and does not hesitate to place their life in danger in order to arrive there, since the possibility of obtaining a residence permit in a European Union country is exceedingly small.
Indeed, the number of immigrants who have illegally entered Europe tripled in 2014 compared to 2013, reaching 274,000 people, to which must be added asylum seekers, who, for the most part – as the two immigrants who attempted suicide – will be rejected. Effectively, faced with this outburst of immigration, rather than offering asylum to refugees, the European Union – whose “real risk” is to receive a refugee for each 2,000 inhabitants, while in Lebanon is one in four – is determined to restrict the number of asylum applications accepted and strengthen border controls to stop as many immigrants as possible from getting in. That task was entrusted to Frontex – the European Union External Border Security Agency.
Frontex: an army to fight immigrants
This organization, created in 2004, aims to implement the “safe migration” policy of the European Union. Indeed, it can put up fences and walls, conduct collective return to countries of origin [1] and externalize migration controls to other countries with which it has agreements to take precautions against immigrants, not just in arrival but also in their exit. Actually, it is an organization having its own legal personality that coordinates the operations with the related sources: the border guards and customs authorities in other countries, with quasi military means.
This is the context in which, on 6 March, the director of Frontex came to visit Brussels National Airport with Jan Jambon, Minister of the Interior, and Theo Francken, State Secretary for Migration.
Whom benefits from this?
The consequences of this immigration policy speak for themselves: 3,072 people have died in the waters of the Mediterranean in 2014 and 274,000 people have entered Europe illegally.
This huge figures shows the hypocrisy of the European Union, which denies asylum to most of these immigrants, but accepts them on condition that they stay “illegal”, with no rights, as cheap, exploitable labor, allowing its members states to exploit them as if they were doing them a “favor”. Moreover, having this “illegal” workforce, it pushes down the working conditions and wages of all legally employed workers. This is a boon to business owners, who benefit greatly from any “legality” through the outsourcing chain. The State plays the role of carrying out the crackdown against those who dare to demand documents and organize themselves for this, locking them in prisons (which are called something else), and keeping the children isolated from the world [2].
The struggle of undocumented workers is inseparable from the struggle of local workers. Therefore it is essential to unite our struggles with those without papers. But the government, aware of the overwhelming force which the workers would have if they were united, tries to divide us, stoking racism of “legal” Belgian workers against “illegal” foreign workers, as well as in other EU member states. The recent statements by Bart De Wever on the Berber community are an example of this.
– Regularization for ALL of the ‘undocumented’!  
– Out with Frontex!  
– Close all concentration camps! End of deportations!  
– Unionization of ‘undocumented’ workers with the same rights as legal workers!  
– Unite all workers, legal and undocumented, to unify our struggles against the government and employers!  
Undocumented workers are always fighting back!
On the 1st of March, 200 undocumented immigrants joined the rally from Brussels to the 127bis Centre in Steenokkerzeel. On March 22, 500 of them closed the Vottem center. On April 1st, in the trade unions demonstration at Luxembourg Square in Brussels, a compact group of “undocumented” immigrants demanded regularization holding a banner that read: “Labor brings us together, the documents separate us.”
[1] In 2010, for instance, 32 “special” flights were arranged by Frontex.
[2] See also the article in French “Les sans papiers travallieurs, un maillon essentiel de l’exploitation capitaliste”, (“Undocumented workers, an essential part of capitalist exploitation”) on website
Translation: Gabriel Tolstoy

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