Monday, June 05, 2006

Immigration in the U.S. and in Europe.

Interesting point made by the Economist this week - although I am not sure it is all so caricatural:
Immigrants to Europe are welcomed with welfare benefits but cannot get jobs (their unemployment rate os far higher than average). America makes it easy even for illegal immigrants to get jobs but stops even legal ones claiming means-tested welfare benefits or subsidised housing.
They also say that as a result, it is harder to talk about immigration in Europe because "all migrants are caught in a web of [economic] suspicion".
The most interesting difference they notice between the US and Europe is indeed that whereas immigration is a mainstream issue in America, it is on the fringe of the politcal spectrum in Europe - where it is mostly addressed by far-right parties (France's National Front or Danish's People's Party).
Without a space in the politcal center for friends of immigration, public fears of immigration go unaddressed and unallayed.
Another good point is the lack of political representation of people of recent immigration background, compared to the US:
Hardly any of the 36,000 mayors in France are immigrants; none of the parliamentary deputies from mainland France are [of immigration background]. In contrast, America has two dozens of congressmen with Latino background.
It'll be interesting to see if those issues become more central in France's next year's elections. It is quite possible but not certain that last year's riots of second-generation immigrants will have a lasting impact, if no new riots occur before then.


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