Seven years after joining the EU, restrictions on work visas for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens have finally been lifted in the UK and eight other European countries. These restrictions were kept for so long due to a fear of mass immigration; and in fact, before being lifted the UK government rushed through legislation to restrict the benefits of new migrants – limiting access to unemployment benefits.
As Kait Bolongaro’s article (Aljazeera.com) describes, this legislative move mirrors strong media undertones of anti-immigration, as well as developing public opinion that migrants will hurt existing citizens and burden their social system. But this is a myth; research shows insignificant numbers of migrants partaking in “benefit tourism”, even among those unemployed. However, as Bolongaro explores, the anti-immigration sentiment is growing and has serious effects on citizens, especially those of diverse backgrounds.
“With increasing pressure from immigration, there has been a recent rise of right wing political parties around Europe. Such entities foster a hostile environment for would-be migrants of all backgrounds by peddling a type of exclusive banal nationalism to the populous that creates exclusive groups of us versus them.”
With such exclusive attitudes, I fear for the discrimination and hostility felt by diverse groups within these countries.
In comparing assimilation methods of integration to a multicultural mode based on tolerance of diversity, several European state leaders have deemed multiculturalism a failed policy. How the alternative would function in a time of globalization and mass-migration, I don’t quite understand. Are immigrants expected to drop all traditions and values upon arrival? However, as Bolongaro points out, multiculturalism is a policy that needs time in order to be effective. Its success in Canada and New Zealand exemplify its potential. In a time where the world currently contains the most international migrants in recorded history, “Europe needs more multiculturalism, not less.”
Well put, Kait!
You can find the original article here.