Migration management

Nigeria! What’s New left this link to a photo essay on a comment to the “Gold Diggers of the Sahara” poem. I wrote

“this is a lament – a dedication to those men and women who spend their lives toiling for little or nothing – for all those that walk the desert and foreign lands in search of the means to support their families – exiles from their lands – young men and young women.”

The photo essay is testimony to these people. A couple of weeks ago a local Granada paper had a story on a Spanish NGO that was opening a school in Senegal for 800 students. 50% women and 50 young men to educate them but more specifically to train them in the hope that they will find jobs at home and not be compelled to make the journey to Europe. There are millions of young people presently trying to migrate to the North – this new policy would have to replicated hundreds of times in countries throughout West, North and East Africa as well as S E Asia, the Middle East and beyond. The school is a positive step but the reality is it is a bag of flour amongst a million people and where are the jobs once these young people are trained?

The EU is planning and funding a series of transit camps across the continent and North Africa (from Ukraine to Libya) as part of a holistic “system of control” along with the Schengen agreement, the closing of the two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, that will effectively “barbed wire” Europe. The contradiction is that many European countries such as Britain and Spain are in desperate need of increased migration due to falling birthrates and emmigration of their own indigenous citizens. There are some 4 million Spanish working abroad and only 2 million foreigners in Spain. The way around the need for migrant labour – professional, skilled and unskilled – is to dress wanted and therefore “legal” immigration in terms of economics and meeting temporary needs, whilst using asylum seekers and refugees as a way of rejecting “illegal” migration on ethnic and nationalistic grounds.

In terms of legal rights and status, migrants can be divided into three groups: the educated elite and experts, who are subject to very few restrictions and social disadvantages; the mass of migrants who usuallly seek seasonal work, whose rights are severely restricted and whose situation is characterised by poor working conditions, high unemployment, and poor living conditions; and “illegal aliens” who are needed on the labour marked, but are politically excluded and have no rights whatsoever”.

The irony is that only 30 years ago thousands of seasonal Spanish migrants especially from Andalucia spent their summers in working in northern Europe, in Germany and France mainly picking fruit but also working on building sites and as casual labourers – just like the Moroccans and West Africans are doing in Spain today – the same jobs but in those days the borders were open and movement between countries was not controlled and of course skin colour was not an issue.