European leaders have rushed to criticise Donald Trump’s appalling immigration policy and travel restrictions, but the truth is the European Union itself continues to close its doors to immigrants, becoming more and more of a fortress.
EU policy dealing with the thousands of refugees, who began arriving at the gates of Europe since the summer of 2015, has frequently been cited as the continent’s most visible failure. Despite the commitment to house 160,000 refugees stuck in Greece and Italy, EU countries have so far only accommodated 7,000. Meanwhile, thousands of migrants and refugees remain stranded in camps in Serbia and on the Greek islands, suffering extreme conditions due to the very low temperatures.
Meanwhile, the increasingly militarised Mediterranean is another insurmountable barrier for migrants seeking entry into Europe. Last year alone, a total of 5,079 people perished in the Mediterranean attempting to reach the safety of Europe, a figure that exceeds the number registered last year by 1,200.
Those who manage to reach their intended destination, face further difficulties such as the infamous fences that surround the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the north of Africa, summary deportations, being held at immigration detention centres and random Police stop and search checks. This situation has worsened since the signing of the EU-Turkey agreement.
In France, two months after the closure of the Jungle migrant camp in Calais, a British-funded wall worth 2.3m pounds has been built. Four metres high, the concrete barrier runs for a kilometre along the main road reinforcing pre-existing wire fences as the UK aims to strengthen its borders and reduce the influx of migrants.
Although European leaders mainly use rhetoric that defends human rights and supports minorities, the EU’s attitude towards migration policy does not reflect this. Furthermore, by trying to counter the wave of rising popularity of the far-right, conservative and liberal leaders of the EU are in fact taking over their ideas, enforcing xenophobic and racist policies. Worryingly, this will encourage rather than deter President Trump’s attempts to implement highly discriminatory immigration policy in the US.