Immigrants continue to head to Europe, perhaps fleeing persecution at home or hoping a successful trip will bring a better life. Few critics doubt that Europe needs more workers, but legislators say immigration must be orderly, and carefully controlled.
“The next step we must take is the question of legal migration,” said German Centre-Right Euro MP Manfred Weber. “We recognise that European societies need migration for the labour market, for the future of the EU, and this is our next step.”
Critics of the new laws say they are unfair, and will target the most desperate people, those unable to defend themselves.
“I hope that the Council will reconsider why they are passing repressive legislation to push people away,” said Kathalijne Maria Buitenweg from the Dutch Greens. “They do not even have a European legislation on who can enter the EU and who can not. It is very one-sided and very unbalanced.”
Aid agencies working with immigrants say the Euro MPs have reacted to a problem that does not exist. The General Secretary of Spain’s Commission for Aid to Refugees, Mauricio Valiente, said: “This measure criminalises the immigrants, and it implies that the arrival of workers, of citizens of other countries, is a problem for the EU, when exactly the opposite is the case: that it is a workforce which is much-needed and which has contributed to the development of the EU.”
But supporters of the new laws say getting tough on illegal immigrants is the only way to persuade voters to accept continued legal migration.