In July, French president Nicolas Sarkozy began a blatantly racist policy of systematic deportation of Roma people residing in France. So far over 1,200 have been deported. A leaked memo from the French interior ministry confirms the racist nature of this policy, telling police chiefs to “begin a systematic dismantling of the illegal camps, particularly those of the Roma”.
Facing anger over the economic crisis and austerity measures and a mass movement against his attacks on the retirement age, Sarkozy is using anti-immigrant scape-goating to distract attention from his anti-worker policies.
Despite criticism from the EU for his violation of the “free movement of people”, Sarkozy’s policies mirror those of other European governments towards the Roma and immigrants in general. Germany is planning to deport 12,000 Roma and a minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s government actually applauded the firebombing of Roma camps in Italy. The EU itself has just made an agreement with the corrupt government of Pakistan to facilitate the deportation of Pakistani immigrants from EU countries.
The Irish government has been just as bad in its attacks on immigrants. The protests against the attempted deportation of the Adeniran family in Balbriggan in north Dublin has highlighted the government’s inhumane deportation policy. Meanwhile, the High Court has ruled against four African young people who took a case against their removal by the government from Dublin to Galway, disrupting their Leaving Certs and their lives in the community.
We should expect to see a furthering ratcheting up of anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies by governments throughout Europe as a means of distracting from the effects of their policies. Working class people should reject these “divide and rule” tactics.
The crisis wasn’t caused by immigrants but by big business, the sharks of the “international markets” and the governments which defend and facilitate them. There are enough resources in society for the needs of everyone – they are in the hands of the super-rich elite.
The solution lies in a united fightback of workers and young people across Europe and a society which provides access to jobs, housing and services to all.