A police officer at a train station in Budapest, right, tried to enforce new ticketing rules for migrant passengers bound for Austria. Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

The freedom of movement in peril

Blog post by François Crépeau
1 September, 2015

The present chaos serves perfectly the nationalist populist movements. There will be electoral consequences to the present inability of European leaders to rise to the political occasion. They seem incapable to explain to their electorate that borders are porous and migration can’t be stopped in the long term by police methods, to develop a positive discourse on mobility and diversity as foundation stones of contemporary European societies, to build a realistic collective long term plan that includes a massive resettlement programme for refugees, with efficient distribution keys, and many more legal ways to enter Europe to look for work, and therefore to start organising the migration movements – thus taking over the mobility market from the smugglers – rather than try resisting them – which only creates more precariousness for migrants and entrenches smuggling operations –.

The first major political casualty risks being the free movement of persons inside Europe: this would be a huge step backwards in time and a recoil from one of the key philosophical foundations of the Union. The second probable consequence of the present chaos could be in the UK: based on the fears stoked by all domestic political parties of an invasion of migrants and the destruction of the British way of life, there’s now a reasonable chance that PM Cameron will lose his referendum and that UK will exit the EU.

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  A young woman sleeping on the ground in a park, where migrants have found temporary shelter in the Serbian capital Belgrade. A record number of refugees streamed into EU member state Hungary from Serbia last week, just days before Hungary completes a border fence to keep out migrants. Credit: AFP

This is Europe’s opportunity to become a trailblazer in migration policies

Blog post by François Crépeau
27 August, 2015

Asia is following very closely what Europe does to cope with the “migration crisis”. Whatever solutions Europeans adopt risk being imitated elsewhere. Choosing unprincipled and incoherent policies will spur the same kind of treatment in other regions of the world where migration pressures are high.

Europe has the opportunity to become a trailblazer in adopting migration policies based on a forward-looking conception of human rights and mobility: a unified refugee determination system could be part of it.

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Children right to education

Blog post by François Crépeau
26 August, 2015

The Department of Education of Quebec is working on legislative changes that would allow free public schooling to all Quebec children, regardless of their immigration status.

This is good news, if it effectively materialises. Children have rights that do not depend on their migration status or that of their parents. The right to an education is one of them. In Toronto, this access to school for ALL children has been acknowledged for over a decade. Many people have worked hard here to convince the Ministère de l’Éducation and it is good to see that their efforts will bear fruits.

Access of undocumented migrant children to health care is next on the list of struggles.

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We must repress the exploitative employers, not the migrants

Blog post by François Crépeau
25 August, 2015

People who work illegally in England and Wales will face up to six months in prison, under proposals to be included in the forthcoming Immigration Bill.

This is exactly the contrary of what needs to be done. Repressing the migrants only drives them further underground, thus increasing their precariousness and the correlative power of smugglers and unscrupulous employers.

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  Migrants pulled a boat crowded with Syrians last month onto the shore at Lesbos. (c) Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times.

A Man-Made Crisis

Blog post by François Crépeau
6 August, 2015

“Since the beginning of the year, the number of refugees and migrants arriving [on the Island of Lesbos] and on other Greek islands has surged to full-scale humanitarian-crisis levels. Arrivals by sea have surpassed 107,000 through July, according to United Nations figures, eclipsing even the numbers of people reaching Italy. Most of those who arrive on the shores of Lesbos, a popular tourist destination just off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean Sea, are fleeing the wars in Syria and Afghanistan and hoping to head deeper into Western Europe.”*

The issue is not going to go away, as the Calais situation shows: it has been a recurring phenomenon since before the opening of the Sangatte camp in 1999. Greece and Italy are neither responsible for this situation, nor able to cope with it all by themselves (although Greek authorities could do better, emulating what Turkey has done for Syrians), yet other European countries aren’t ready to accept a share of the migrants themselves.

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