In some Western countries, anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiments start at the top. The Daily Vox team rounds up a few states with problematic anti-immigrant laws.
Italy is the latest country to come up with an anti-immigrant policy. The Italian interior ministry has created a code of conduct for NGOs operating rescue ships on the Mediterranean Sea which aid groups say could endanger lives. It proposes that rescue ships disembark survivors at a place of safety instead of transferring them to other ships. This means it would take longer to conduct rescue missions, putting many people’s lives at risk. Rescue ships will also require police officers to be on board the rescue ships to collect evidence from the rescued passengers. Several NGOs, including Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have raised concerns about the effects these will have on rescue missions and the safety of the immigrants.
2. United States of America
Donald Trump espoused anti-immigrant rhetoric long before he even became president. A new Republican proposal aims to cut legal immigration to the United States by half within a decade, by limiting the ability of American citizens and legal residents to bring family members into the country. The proposed plan would put in place a merit system to decide who should be admitted to the country and granted legal residency. The system will favour applicants based on their skills, education and language ability instead of looking at whether they have relatives already in the US.
In 2016, Denmark cemented itself as one of the least attractive places for refugees to go. The Danish government signed a bill that would give authorities the power to seize assets from migrants and asylum-seekers to fund the migrants’ subsistence in the country. Assets exceeding $1 450 (R 19 380) would be seized. Social benefits were also cut for refugees and asylum-seekers, while the government said pork had to be placed on municipal menus including at schools and daycares. This was criticised for targeting Muslim refugees coming into the country.
In February this year, Hungary joined the list of countries which have established strict measures to stop the flow of asylum seekers and refugees across its borders. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orb¡n introduced measures to hold immigrants in detention “shelters” indefinitely. This was also seen as a means to prevent immigrants from traveling freely within Europe. The prime minister’s proposal means those who entered Hungary illegally, even if they were fleeing for their lives, would be kept in government camps and banned from moving freely within Hungary until their immigration status was resolved.
Several other European countries, such as France, Belgium and Norway, which have have banned the burqa and veil for Muslim women, also have laws that make it extremely difficult for immigrants to express themselves freely. These laws, along with general anti-immigrant sentiments in these countries, send a clear messages to refugees, especially from African and Middle Eastern countries, that they are not welcome in the West.