Racism and xenophobia have always cast their shadow over Europe, sometimes in more disguised ways than others. In modern times, in order to explain that foreigners are not welcome in our space, we use excuses such as the economic crisis, the lack of jobs, and the contribution of immigrants to the rise of crime.
There is an incredible amount of biased ideas from which xenophobic (and often right-wing) populists easily take advantage of to call for stronger immigration policies. Indeed, more and more it looks like immigrants are not welcomed in the European fortress.
More than the general problematic of migrants, today we would like to focus on the particular case of refugees and asylum seekers. Violences, corruption, injustice and wars, push thousands of people to leave their countries every year, who try to reach the lands of “human rights” to seek some relief and find a better life.
States more or less agree that refugees should be welcomed, and even in our collective imagination it would be unthinkable to refuse a right to protection to, for instance, a Syrian national. More than that, since 1951 and the adoption of the Geneva Refugee Convention, States have an obligation to accept and protect refugees.
Nevertheless, the system regulating asylum protection in Europe is far from being the most welcoming for asylum seekers and refugees. Since 2003, Europe’s Dublin II Regulation (Regulation 2003/343/CE) defines that the State where an asylum seeker first enters and is enrolled in the authorities’ files, is the State that is responsible for examining the asylum claim. This means, that if a person seeking for asylum is first registered by the police in Italy and decides to move to Denmark to ask for asylum, she will be deported to Italy, the only country in Europe that can examine her claim. In order for this to be possible, the Dublin system also relies on the Eurodac Regulation. This regulation created the EURODAC database, where the fingertips of all migrants that have reached Europe seeking for asylum, or illegally, are stored.
The Dublin system creates enormous problems, specially for the countries that are on the ramparts of the fortress of Europe like Italy, Greece or Spain. Indeed, these countries receive thousands of claims which they often are not able to examine correctly. This leads to extremely long procedures of asylum, during which the asylum seeker lives in terrible conditions and is ultimately more easily turned down. It is also terrible for the asylum seeker, who may want to reach a particular country because he has certain family ties there and is not be able to do it. To be capable of passing from one country to the other undetected, people have to resort to human traffickers, which only enhances the problem.
Ultimately, European countries do not really want to bear the responsibility for yet another migrant, whether he is illegal or seeking refuge. This creates a system which is downright excruciating for those who come to Europe in the hope of getting some relief from the horrors they experience in their home-countries.