Overwhelmed by the influx of migrants and refugees from conflict in the Middle East and now Ukraine, European governments have considered barring rescue boats from using their ports.
For example, during June of 2017, more than 12,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean, an increase that overwhelmed Italian policymakers in their attempt to accommodate the needs of so many new bodies. Prior to that June, a total of 82,000 immigrants had landed in Italy alone, which, based on UN data, is a 20% increase from the migration in 2016.
If the decision had been made to close the ports, the burden of housing and caring for people fleeing wars and economic deprivation would be shifted to the French and Spanish governments.
Many have opposed the closing of Italy’s borders, referring to it as a moral and human issue. They argue that these cross-cultural refugees should be treated with equality and open arms, especially considering their flight from persecution, war and inhumane conditions.
THE POPE ON IMMIGRATION
Pope Francis, too, has aligned himself with this view. Several years ago, he issued a 20-step plan for all European governments to accommodate these individuals. His idea has laid the groundwork for two global compacts on refugees and migration.
This campaign will be called “Share the Journey,” and Francis encouraged the Italian government to prioritize personal safety and dignity over national security and “for the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorization.”
It is essential, however, to understand the impact of immigrants on the economic and social systems within a country.
‘A COMPLEX ISSUE’
Addison Phillips, who spent three years in Italy teaching English and has witnessed the change in Italian society due to these new diverse groups of migrants said: “I think it’s a really complex issue that in the last couple of years it’s become obvious that the gigantic increase and influx of immigrants, that [mass immigration] is not a sustainable solution.”
Francesco Scavone, an Italian immigrant who came to the United States over a decade ago, asserted that this was true.
“In my experience, they [immigrants] work, maybe some of them are able to be integrated and find jobs and then most of the time the man receives money and sends it back to their country of origin because their family is there, the women are there, their kids are there. This hinders growth in the economy of the country.”
Both Scavone and Phillips noted that there was a moral problem with denying people access to the country, yet indicated that it wasn’t a black-and-white issue as the Pope had made it out to be. Their hope was that reform could be made within the structural dysfunction of these societies, therefore preventing the need for immigration and fixing the issue on a systematic level.