Tag Archives: African immigration to Europe

White supremacist immigration policy

African immigrants at Melilla August 14 2014

There’ve been several photos of undocumented African immigrants to Europe in the past few days because the Spanish coast guard rescued over a thousand traveling on rafts across the Strait of Gibralter between Morocco & Spain. The photos of those rescued are very poignant: some show mothers with infants; others show immigrants who appear shell-shocked from their ordeal. Most are likely malnourished & many are sick. All have been through hell.

Nearly a thousand also tried to scale the triple-layer, 20-foot razor wire fence that separates Morocco from Melilla, a Spanish territory in north Africa, where they can try to gain entry to Europe to find work.

This photo at Melilla is not the poignant genre. This is of from the white supremacist album–& not as metaphor. Forcing malnourished, traumatized people to risk life & injury while watching nonchalantly, arms akimbo, or trying to beat them back with truncheons could not be more malevolent or repugnant–or more indicting of European Union immigration policy which endangers human beings & humiliates them in the bargain.

Does anyone else find this scene reminiscent of the psychos in the hills of Sderot, Israel watching ethnic cleansing in Gaza? Because the impulse behind it is exactly the same.

Immigration is a human right & human beings have the right to do it with dignity. Tear down Fortress Europe & replace the psychos running the place with those who recognize & honor a human being when they see one.

Open the borders! No human being is illegal!

(Photo by Jose Colon/AFP/Getty Images)

The barbarity of European Union immigration policy

African immigrants at Melilla August 13 2014

Undocumented immigration from the four corners of this planet is one of the greatest crises of this generation exposing the wretched underbelly of neoliberal capitalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism. Who can count that high, but there are an estimated 200 million immigrants traveling enormous distances & treacherous routes to find rest & work in the plundering countries.

On the southern US border with Mexico, there is a massive influx of unaccompanied children from Central America, estimated at nearly 60,000 children just in the past ten months. The phenomenon of unaccompanied immigrant children exists on every single of the well-traveled routes: from Zimbabwe, children cross a crocodile-infested river into South Africa; from Afghanistan, they travel in engine compartments of cars to sneak past immigration controls; young people from all over Africa attempt to scale barb wire fences, beaten by Moroccan cops on one side & Spanish cops on the other, to enter the north African enclave of Melilla where they can try to claim refuge in European territory. Israel appears to be the only country African immigrants are trying to escape from because the racist violence is so severe. Some of the immigrants are from places like South Sudan & Congo where Israel has massive investments for plunder.

There’s more rubbish written about these immigrants than a sane mind can grasp. There’s that Indian parable about the blind man trying to determine what an elephant looks like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. Most anti-immigration polemicists apparently never make it past the elephant’s ass. US politicians claim the children are associated with drugs & prostitution; some say they’re fleeing from gang violence in their own countries; some claim they’re part of organized crime cartels (when in fact most are too young for US government employment); & there are always the schnooks who claim they’re coming here for welfare benefits like food stamps even though largesse is not a quality of social services in the US. If you’re lucky, you get fifty cents a day for food stamps.

The conduct & policies of European Union border patrols in the Mediterranean region are as criminal as it gets, making the sea a graveyard for thousands of immigrants, with politicians incapable of the higher human emotions trying to cover their crimes with ceremonial crocodile tears. Officials from the Obama regime put on a sad face talking about the humanitarian crisis here & then propose legislation to fast-track deport the kids in violation of every standard of child welfare & sanctuary.

It’s quite observable that children are the primary victims of neoliberal plunder & military policy. Just as the children of Gaza are exposing Israel, the children of Central America & Africa are exposing the plundering countries. Child welfare recognizes no boundaries; human solidarity doesn’t either.

These young men are trying to cross into Spanish territory in north Africa at Melilla where there is a refugee center. We wish them solidarity & Godspeed on their journey.

Open the damn borders! No human being is illegal!

(Photo by Jesus Blasco de Avellaneda/Reuters)

African immigration to Europe

Immigrants June 20 2014

Today the UN commemorates World Refugee Day. In their 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the UN laid out who does & does not qualify as a refugee. The UN definition has been parsed several times since 1951 because colonial wars & economic plunder have made such a mess of this world that millions have been uprooted & don’t fit any tidy bureaucratic schema. All they know is that where they live is a hell hole & they need to get them & their families out to survive.

The protocols exclude war criminals but all those guys have money in Swiss bank accounts & buy their way across borders. Who needs a green card when you can afford a chalet in the south of France? They also exclude “economic immigrants”–that is, millions of people displaced by neoliberal plunder & IMF-World bank austerity programs. But there are still millions of refugees who fit the UN’s narrow schema from Syria, Libya, Somalia, Eritrea, Mali, Central African Republic, Congo, Uganda, Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan.

The UN commemorates World Refugee Day with videos of celebrities honoring the “strength & resilience” of refugees. Sentimentality aside, the brief videos show footage of the horrors refugees are fleeing & the misery of their flights. And that’s good because we need to look human suffering straight in the face in order to be part of ending it. But what the UN doesn’t do is publicize or denounce the treacheries of European Union countries in preventing refugees from entering by putting up a surveillance fortress around its borders. Thousands of those refugees & immigrants drown in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross in rickety makeshift boats when if the EU honored the UN protocols they would be providing ferries & ships for safe passage.

In October 2013, a boat carrying hundreds of refugees, mostly from Eritrea, Somalia, & Ghana, sank off the coast of Lampedusa (near Sicily) trying to reach the immigrant processing center located on the island. 364 people drowned amidst charges by local fishermen that the Italian coast guard bungled the rescue attempt. Despite protests by Italian human rights activists, Italian residents of Lampedusa, survivors of the accident & other detainees at the Lampedusa refugee center, the Italian government moved the bodies of the drowned to Sicily & buried them in scattered, unmarked graves. Survivors were unable to attend the memorial service or hold funerals for their own loved ones.

The number of refugees & immigrants trying to reach Italy is over 40,000 so far this year, which is more than the total that arrived in 2013 & does not include those immigrating to Spain or Greece. Italy claims it “rescued” 5,200 just in the span of four days. After the Lampedusa accident & guided by those UN protocols, why isn’t the Italian coast guard providing safe passage to those people? Rather than spending millions of those euros on “rescuing” people, why don’t they use the money to provide ships?

Human rights activists don’t accept the UN distinction between refugees & immigrants. No human being is illegal. We don’t care why they’re leaving their countries; we only know they have a right to try to make a better life for themselves.

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders! Down with Fortress Europe!

(Photo of immigrants traveling from Africa to Italy on June 7th by Massimo Sestini)

African immigrants “rescued” by Spanish coast guard

African immigrants May 23 2014

There’s a world of hope & dreams invested in these young men who were among a group of 22 immigrants from Africa, including two women & six children intercepted off the coast of Spain near the Canary Island of Gran Canaria. Half are sub-Saharan Africans, half are from the Maghreb region of northern Africa.

Their overcrowded boat described as “makeshift” ran adrift after it lost engine power & had to be rescued by the Spanish coast guard. “Rescued” of course is a qualified term for undocumented immigrants. They didn’t drown in the Meditarranean Sea like so many thousands of fellow immigrants but they will be incarcerated, processed, & most will be deported & dumped back somewhere on the African continent.

You can see how elated they are to be “rescued” because many have entire families dependent on their getting into Europe to find work & send money home; many are refugees fleeing war; many have been dispossessed by neoliberal plunder. All of them are desperate or they wouldn’t risk their lives in a makeshift boat that could prove their doom.

Working people around the world are inundated with agitation against immigrants, as if they’ve come to take our jobs or go on the dole. That’s a classic divide & conquer device that plays well among those fearful for their jobs, especially when it’s orchestrated with racism. So one of the most promising political developments in several countries is that immigrants are standing up for their rights fearlessly. Our heartfelt solidarity with their struggles.

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders! Tear down Fortress Europe!

(Photo by Borja Suarez/Reuters)

African immigration to Europe: Immigration is a human right! Open the borders!


The tough one here is not the military cop in riot gear wielding the baton but the unarmed immigrants trying to rush the border fence topped with razor wire to cross from Morocco into Melilla, the north African enclave owned by Spain. They hope that by getting into European territory they stand a better chance of making it to the European continent for work.

Most who get past the daunting impediments arrive with extreme injuries from the razor wire, from being beaten by border guards (both in Morocco & Spain), from falling, & are malnourished since they’ve just spent weeks coming from their own countries. There isn’t a lot of available reporting about how they transit great distances, several borders, & difficult terrains to get to Morocco. If it’s anything comparable to what Central American & Mexican immigrants go through to get to the US, it must be a living hell.

On this occasion (May 1st), 400 immigrants stormed the border fence but only 150 got through. Those who were pushed back will camp in makeshift tents & be subjected to harassment by Moroccon police acting as a southern flank of European immigration policy. Those who do make it are not assured of moving on to Europe & are often deported & dumped back in Morocco.

How did human society come to this? How did such barbarism become the dominant political ethos of our historic era? More importantly, how the hell do we get rid of this social gangrene that forces people from their families & cultures, endangers their lives, & humiliates them as if they were beasts?

The growing combativity of immigrants in staking their rights to immigrate is a development of the greatest importance & ought to make our hearts sing. As the US immigrant rights movement chants, “No human being is illegal.” The only way to make those damn fortresses come down is to stand with them in a solid phalanx of solidarity. Neoliberal predation acknowledges no national borders & neither do we.

Immigration is a human right! Open the borders!

(Photo by Fernando Garcia/AP)

African immigrants in Germany under siege

The remarkable 1974 German film titled, “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,” by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
is about a young Moroccan immigrant who meets a dowdy middle-aged cleaning woman when he is taunted into asking her to dance in a bar where she has sought refuge from rain. The signature moment in the film is when his ridicule melts into nothingness as she asks him about himself & the humanity of both merges. The rest of the film is taken up with the ferocious discrimination they faced as a couple–not primarily due to their age difference but to his nationality.

It was evident from that film that racism against immigrants was rampant in Germany even before immigration became a central issue in US politics. There certainly is no glory in outpacing the US on that question but a considerable amount of shame. There are now an estimated one million African immigrants in Germany, distinguished as either North African or Sub-Saharan, which is code describing either Arabic or Black ethnicity. Some immigration agencies estimate there are now between 7 & 8 million undocumented African immigrants living throughout the European Union (EU) countries–at least two-thirds of them from North Africa since EU immigration policy toward Black Africans is so violent, attempting to keep them isolated in squalid refugee camps on Mediterranean islands or massively deport them.

European regimes are torn on the issue of immigration in the same way as the US regime. On the one hand, these countries rely on the cheap, exploitable labor of foreign workers for any number of jobs–& “illegal” status makes them super-exploitable. But on the other hand, whipping up anti-immigrant fervor among working people is a marvelously effective weapon for divide & conquer.

This young immigrant is being dragged away from a confrontation where riot cops in Berlin surrounded & tried to dismantle a makeshift refugee camp. The report says “violence broke out” between refugees who had accepted a deal by the city to leave the camp & move to a renovated hostel & refugees who insisted on staying. The confrontation was likely less between skepticism & credulity about authorities & their promises than it was another instance of ‘violence breaking out’ when riot cops attack protestors.

Immigration is a human right!

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Immigration is a human right! Open the damn borders!

This photo is of two African immigrants who on March 18th made it past the 20-foot chain-link fence between Morocco & Melilla, an outpost of Spain on the coast of northern Africa. Because the detention center already has triple its capacity of immigrants, the Spanish Red Cross set up additional tents (seen in the background).

The photo is posted not to evoke pity–a patronizing emotion–because immigrants are among the toughest, most determined people on the planet. It is posted because the faces of these young men express the fear, trauma, & ordeal of undocumented immigrants routed by neoliberal barbarisms, forced to leave their families & countries, travel thousands of often treacherous miles, risk their lives & limbs simply to find work.

Our fullest solidarity with them. Immigration is a human right!

(Photographer not identified; photo from CNN)