As we look back at 2015, it’s easy to get wrapped in Trumpmania or the Clinton emails story.
In 5 years, pundits may look back at 2015 and call it the year that Europe changed.
The number of migrants and refugees crossing into Europe by land and sea this year illegally has passed one million, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.
This represents a fourfold rise on the total last year.
Most crossed by sea, with more than 800,000 travelling from Turkey to Greece. Half are migrants from Syria.
Eleven more migrants drowned on Tuesday, adding to the IOM toll of 3,695 dying or missing at sea.
Seven people were rescued by Turkish coast guards after the craft went down, apparently en route from Kusadasi in Turkey to the Greek island of Samos. One report said the dead were Syrians.
Europe could have absorbed one million people over a 10-15 year period, specially if they bring special skills that make them employable immediately. On the other hand, I don’t know of a way of absorbing that many people in one year without creating chaos across society.
How will Europeans react? They could complain and do nothing.
They could fight back to protect their culture as we’ve seen in the rise of political parties. According to a USA Today story:
Hard nationalist and xenophobic politicians across Europe are gaining popularity as sections of their society become afraid and angry over immigration. The Economist calls it “The march of Europe’s little Trumps.”
Hungary has probably been the best example. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s vehemently anti-immigrant rhetoric, his country’s border fence with Serbia, as well as his pandering to the far-right Jobbik party has long caused concern in Europe. Among Hungarians, however, Orban’s approval has grown.
More recently, Poland’s new right-wing government — though not radical — pledges it will crack down on immigration.
By the way, this article is unfair to call these people anti-immigrant. It’s more accurate to say that they are anti-illegal immigration, specially given the potential for terrorism. Also, many of these “immigrants” have very different attitudes about freedom, and specially women, than Europeans do.
As an immigrant, who eventually became a U.S. citizen, I sympathize with people who yearn for a better life. My parents did and that’s we left Cuba for the U.S. in the 1960s.
At the same time, immigration must be orderly. You can’t have a million foreigners walk into a society without creating major disruptions and a backlash from the locals.
How will Europe change? I will change, but the question is how?