In Europe, hostility to immigration is by definition the province of the “far right.” But the reality is that most Europeans don’t want their countries overrun by people from other countries and cultures, imposing enormous social and economic costs. Thus French President Emmanuel Macron, no doubt a liberal by American standards, is starting to sound like Trump on immigration:
Macron’s government is now tightening the screws: ramping up expulsions, raising pressure on economic migrants and allowing divisive ID checks in emergency shelters.
Critics contend that Macron’s increasingly tough policy on migrants — though wrapped in a cloak of goodwill — contradicts his image as a humanist who defeated an anti-immigrant populist for the presidency, and has crossed a line passed by no other president in the land that prides itself as the cradle of human rights.
But reality is inexorable, and the influx must be dealt with somehow.
From snowy Alpine passes to the borders with Spain or Germany, migrants keep making their way to France. In Paris alone, police have evacuated around 30,000 people camping on sidewalks in the last two years.
30,000 is a shocking number.
It’s getting colder, the clock is ticking and regional authorities are scrambling to meet President Emmanuel Macron’s deadline: get migrants off France’s streets and out of forest hideouts by year’s end.
Consider that for a moment: “forest hideouts.”
Macron has made clear he wouldn’t accept economic migrants in France, wants those who don’t qualify for asylum expelled and doesn’t want them even trying to come to France.
The French president has been rolling out a multi-pronged approach that stretches to Africa, with points set up in Chad and Niger to pre-select those certain of gaining asylum — and weed out potential economic migrants.
At home, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb has ordered prefects, regional representatives of the state, to crack down on illegal immigration, “act quickly” to expel those who fail to gain asylum and report results within weeks, according to a November order cited by the newspaper Le Monde.
A newer set of orders in December rang alarm bells. Collomb told regional authorities to set up “mobile teams” to run checks in emergency housing to ascertain the status of migrants.
Some of Macron’s measures, President Trump can only dream of:
On the ground, authorities are scrambling to show they are following the president’s clear-the-streets orders.
A camp of about 40 Afghan migrants was dismantled last week in the Pas-de-Calais region in northern France, and another was taken down in Macon in the east. On Thursday, a camp on the banks of the Seine river was the latest in Paris to be bulldozed, with 131 migrants taken to shelters.
Police staked out a tollbooth north of Paris in an operation against the “migrant flux,” stopping car after car to check for migrants who don’t have residency documents.
Some on the Left are complaining, while Marine Le Pen has hailed Macron’s measures as a “political victory” for the National Front.
In France as elsewhere in Western Europe, elites have tried to rule immigration out of bounds as a political issue by stigmatizing all questioning of uncontrolled mass immigration as “far right.” The problem this creates is that skepticism toward mass immigration, a perfectly legitimate view, is mixed in some quarters with other elements that are, indeed, far right. Thus parties like the National Front have been able to gain a considerable following, but not a majority.
Still, most Frenchmen don’t want illegal immigrants camping on their streets and hiding in their forests. So no matter how much leftists may complain, French governments, ultimately accountable to the people, are going to have to try to bring the problem under control.