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European Union’s border plan will put more refugees at risk

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Europe’s rulers are split between those who want stronger external borders and those who back stronger national borders. But all their policies are deadly, says Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue 2651
Migrants and supporters protested last year across France in support of migrant and refugee rights
Migrants and supporters protested last October across France in support of migrant and refugee rights (Pic: Jeanne Menjoulet/Flickr)

The European Union (EU) is pushing for stronger border controls in a bid to make it harder for refugees to make it to safety.

The European Parliament backed proposals to beef up the Frontex border police last Wednesday. The move will increase the force from 1,500 guards to 10,000 by 2027—and give it more powers.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration and Citizenship, said Frontex would now be able to turn migrants away at the border.

The beefed-up agency will make it easier to deport refugees who have made it into Europe. This will include Frontex “identifying irregularly staying non-EU nationals”.

And it will also allow for “stronger cooperation with non-EU countries” to send refugees back.

Guy Verhofstadt, chief Brexit coordinator for the European parliament, hailed the “10,000 extra border officers” as a step forward.

“For four years we fought to get a European Border & Coast Guard,” he said. “EU countries were blocking, but we managed to get it done.”

Verhofstadt added that the new immigration rules should be implemented now, not by 2027.

He said, “We need to better protect our external borders to keep our internal EU borders open.”

Some EU member states have resisted attempts to increase the powers of Frontex.


This includes far right and racist governments in Austria, Hungary and Italy, which fear their national border forces losing powers.

And they oppose any attempts to help refugees who have made it into Europe—even the most meagre ones by the EU.

But the Frontex policy shows that the brutal treatment of refugees isn’t just down to national governments.

The EU is a regional capitalist bloc that helps member states to compete internationally with larger rivals such as the US and China.

This means it wants money, goods and services and labour to move relatively freely within its borders, but tight control of what’s allowed in and out of its territory.

The EU’s rulers are split between “centrist” politicians who want stronger external borders and far right and racist politicians who want stronger national borders.

Either way, refugees die in the Mediterranean.

And those who make it across the Mediterranean face police brutality and desperate living conditions.

The European Parliament’s decision came just as refugee charities warned of a surge in the number of unaccompanied children trapped at Britain’s border in Calais.

The number has almost doubled from 150 to 281 in the last three months. Stand Up To Racism and Care4Calais plan a delegation to northern France on Saturday.

The aim is to build a movement in solidarity with refugees and to force the government to open the border.

Protest against Tommy Robinson at the High Court on 14 May

Nazi Tommy Robinson will appear at the High Court in London on Tuesday 14 May.

The attorney general ruled last month that Robinson should face a retrial for allegedly committing contempt of court. He was jailed for 13 months last May after filming outside a sexual abuse trial in Leeds.

But he was released on bail after the Court of Appeal ruled that he should face a retrial.

Judge Nicholas Hilliard referred the case to the attorney general after two hearings last autumn.

Robinson called on his supporters to show support during his retrial—and suggested he might appear in Manchester on Thursday of this week.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism have called a counter-mobilisation outside the High Court. A statement from SUTR said, “It’s important that an anti-racist and anti-fascist presence is out on the streets of London that day to oppose his message.”

When Robinson was in prison, his supporters mobilised 15,000 onto the streets of London last June. They have not been able to get those sorts of numbers since, but Robinson and the far right could still benefit from the Tories’ Brexit crisis.

Anti-fascists must mobilise against them.

Tony Blair scapegoats migrants

Tony Blair blamed migrants for the rise of the far right last week.

The warmonger and former Labour prime minister claimed that “failures around integration” are “partly responsible for a reaction against migration”.

Blair said that migrants have a “duty to integrate, to accept the rules, laws and norms of our society”.

And he added, “The word multiculturalism has been misinterpreted as meaning a justified refusal to integrate.”

The likes of the far right AfD party in Germany have been fuelled by racism against Muslims, migrants and refugees pushed by mainstream politicians and the press.

This included Blair’s Labour governments during the 2000s, which scapegoated Muslims and asylum seekers.

Blair’s intervention shows that lining up behind the “centre” is no solution to the rise of racism and the far right.

Anti-racists organise to show solidarity with migrants in need of healthcare

Over 30 people came to a “migration is not a crime—end the hostile environment” meeting on Saturday of last week.

It was organised by Oxford Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and the Oxford Windrush Group at Blackbird Leys Community Centre.

Speakers identified immigration laws as a key problem that needed to be challenged.

There was a discussion on the growth of racism and ways to fight it.

And people also talked about the role that racism plays in dividing ordinary people to stop them fighting back against poverty and cuts in jobs and public services. Part of the discussion looked at the potential to work with NHS workers to secure access to healthcare for people who can’t produce immigration documents.

Thanks to Julie Simmons

Around 40 people protested against Nigel Farage in Nottingham on Friday of last week. The protest was called by SUTR at two days’ notice outside the East Midlands launch of the right wing Brexit Party.

SUTR is calling on Remain and Leave supporters to unite against racism in the European elections.

Thanks to Richard Buckwell

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