Real-world costs when the Left sells out immigrants

I’ve recently written here about two different topics, which are now becoming closely related.

First, I looked at how Denmark’s Social Democrats, who headed the government until last month, took a much harder line on immigration — in an unsuccessful attempt to hold off the anti-immigrant Danish People’s Party on the far-right — ahead of the June 2015 election.

Second, I also looked at a UN report on how the government of Eritrea — a huge source-country of asylum-seeking immigrants to Europe — literally enslaves and murders its own people to try to prevent them from leaving the country’s brutal conditions. It is illegal to exit the country without permission (rarely granted), and the government reacts very harshly to its citizens all across the world if they manage to make it out anyway.

Now the new Danish government, headed by the center-right Venstre Party and supported by the Danish People’s Party, has adopted an appalling new policy to send Eritrean asylum-seekers back to Eritrea. This decision was made on the basis, according to the BBC, of a (widely criticized) report commissioned last fall … under the Social Democrat-led government … claiming it was now safe to send back Eritreans. Skimming over the report (English version), it’s clear how thinly sourced and dubious many of the claims are. By most sound accounts, anyone sent back will be executed or tortured and sentenced to decades of hard labor.

By the report’s own admission (p. 16), as of “a few years ago,”

[…] returning evaders and deserters were routinely subjected to severe punishment including torture and detention under severe conditions over a prolonged period of time. It was further added that those refusing or failing to participate in National Service would risk to lose a number of his or her citizen’s rights and, in exceptional cases risk indefinite incarceration or loss of life. Returning evaders or deserters that were known for political oppositional activities abroad upon return to Eritrea were taken to underground cells at a prison outside of Asmara while they were under investigation.

 
There has been no change in leadership in Eritrea since then. At the moment, 5,000 people are fleeing the country each month to seek asylum, in spite of shoot-to-kill border control orders.

The report’s suggestion that “the government’s attitude […] seems to be more relaxed” these days is essentially ludicrous. But Denmark’s new policy toward asylum-seekers from Eritrea is premised upon that claim.

This is a real-world consequence of center-left politicians triangulating to be “tough on immigration.” The Danish Social Democrats conveniently managed to lose the election just in time to not get the blame for the policy change, ostensibly undertaken by the anti-immigrant center-right coalition and its parliamentary bloc. But they laid all the groundwork for it: not only failing to defend desperate asylum-seekers and defenseless refugees to voters during the election campaign (instead adopting much of the anti-immigrant talking points and propaganda from the opposition), but literally also writing the fraudulent report that will now get people killed. Denmark’s Social Democrats will have blood on their hands from their pandering to anti-immigrant sentiments.

I don’t expect better from the Conservative governments in Britain and Norway, which issued similarly roundly attacked reports on how “safe” Eritrea now is, based on vague promises by the Eritrean dictatorship to do things differently in future. I do demand better from center-left parties.

U.S. Democrats, take note: Don’t make the same mistake here. Don’t triangulate on this issue. Don’t turn your back on people in need. Don’t sell out immigrants coming to this country for a better life and freedom from want and fear.

Do the right thing.

July 1, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy 133

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

AFD-logo-470

Topics: Co-host Kelley returns from the Peace Corps in Guatemala; Nate explains the wider significance of Denmark’s recent elections. People: Bill, Kelley, and Nate. Produced: June 28th, 2015.

Discussion Points:

– The Peace Corps experience in the globalized internet age, and the challenges facing Guatemala.
– Danish People’s Party: Why the far-right’s huge success in Denmark is a big problem beyond Denmark.

Episode 133 (46 min):
AFD 133

Related Links

AFD: January 31, 2013 – Arsenal For Democracy 35
AFD: When bad people are good at politics
AFD: Meanwhile in Denmark, more bad news
AFD: Denmark’s Thorning-Schmidt: Preview of a Hillary 1st term?

Subscribe

RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

Meanwhile in Denmark, more bad news

Not only did the conservative/”centrist” coalition collectively win the 2015 Denmark elections this week but the country’s second largest party — and largest conservative party — in parliament is now the far-right (but highly polished) Danish People’s Party. The DPP, which primarily exists to bash immigrants and insist on draconian immigration controls while putting a classy “euroskeptic” spin on it all, has previously served in center-right governments before as a minor partner. But now, while still not expected to lead the government, it is still a formidable force, rather than a background player. A few more points and it would have finished first. Soon it probably will.

In my January list of 15 national elections to watch in 2015, I included Denmark. I gave one simple explanation for its inclusion:

Denmark: Will the far-right continue to be treated as a legitimate and not at all terrifying part of the country’s politics? (Yes.)

 
That’s exactly what happened. The ruling center-left Social Democrats’ main strategy involved campaigning as almost-as-tough on immigration as the DPP. That a fool’s errand: people generally pick the real thing over the pale imitation that they believe is openly posturing rather than committed to the position, if that issue is a major motivation in their voting decision. But is also just mainstreams (and “confirms” the validity of) extremist positions. The left should not have conceded to milder versions of DPP talking points and thrown immigrants under the bus. They should have argued the matter and fought back against vile framing. Doing the opposite confirmed my fears about Denmark’s increasingly casual treatment of political extremism like the anti-immigrant DPP.

Not only did the DPP increase from 22 to 37 seats since 2011, but it remained virtually at the same vote share it had captured in the low-turnout 2014 EU elections, which were dominated by hardline populists across the continent but which did not translate later into big wins in national elections in most countries. In the EU vote just over a year ago, the DPP came in first with 26.6%. In the national elections this past week, the DPP captured 21.1% of the vote (up from just 12.3% in 2011).

Center-right parties like Venstre and CPP lost 15 seats between them…exactly the number that the far-right DPP gained. The other big losers were the left-of-center-left parties, which is ultimately why the left-leaning constellation of parties ended up with fewer seats collectively than the right-leaning coalition, despite the Social Democrats finishing first, ahead of the DPP.

Border fence politics comes to the EU (in Hungary)

The anti-liberal far-right reign of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán continues, once again defying all basic principles of the European Union his country joined in 2004 after a referendum with overwhelming voter approval.

“Hungary to erect fence on Serbian border” – Irish Times:

Hungary plans to build a security fence along its entire border with Serbia to halt the flow of illegal migrants, despite domestic and international criticism of its handling of the issue.

Officials say more than 53,000 people – mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans – have lodged asylum requests in Hungary this year, compared with 43,000 last year and 2,157 in 2012. Most file a request before moving west, however, and prime minister Viktor Orban has been accused of taking a harsh line against refugees to counter the rise in popularity of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party.

Mr Orban’s office said yesterday the government had ordered the interior ministry to “prepare for closure of the Hungarian-Serbian border by next Wednesday; this will be achieved by erecting a four-metre-high fence” along its 175km length.
[…]
Mr Orban’s government has also erected billboards around the country, with slogans such as “If you come to Hungary, you can’t take Hungarians’ jobs”.

 
Clever differentiation of his far-right party from the even further right Jobbik Party. He holds a huge majority while they are a minor presence. They’re essentially a stalking horse to justify his outrageous policies.

Fascist is as fascist does. Orbanism rising. 

Australia now bribing human traffickers in anti-migrant move

In his continued bid to combine the buffoonish incompetence of George W. Bush with the crass cruelty of Chris Christie to become the worst elected leader in the world, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reached a new height: paying human traffickers to avoid receiving migrant refugees into Australia. That stunning allegation comes from both the UN High Commission on Refugees and the government of Indonesia, according to the BBC, and Abbott did not deny the charge:

Migrants on a boat headed for Australia have told the UN that the crew was paid by the Australian navy to turn back.

James Lynch, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), told the BBC that passengers saw smugglers being paid after the boat was intercepted.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Friday admitted using “creative” strategies to stop migrant boats but refused to go into detail.

The country’s immigration and foreign ministers denied payments were made.

“The boat that was rescued by the Indonesian navy on 31 May – we have interviewed the 65 passengers and they have said that the crew received a payment,” said Mr Lynch.

He said the passengers – 54 from Sri Lanka, 10 from Bangladesh, and one from Myanmar – were transferred to a customs boat for four days “before being put on two boats and sent back to Indonesia”.
[…]
The Indonesian navy said it intercepted the boats on their return and arrested the crew, who said they had each been paid A$5,000 ($3,900; £2,500) to turn back.

Local police chief Hidayat told AFP news agency: “I saw the money with my own eyes.”

Speaking to Radio 3AW on Friday morning, Mr Abbott refused to deny that a payment had been made, saying simply that “creative strategies” had been developed to stop the migrant boats.

 
To recap, this appalling story means Australia used government funds to pay human traffickers nearly US$4000 each — not to mention bringing the migrants onto customs boats for several days before handing the people back over to the human smugglers.

Added: More, from The New York Times:

Richard Marles, the opposition Labor Party’s spokesman for immigration, said Saturday that Mr. Abbott’s refusal to clearly deny having paid human traffickers “leaves one with the only possible assumption that that may well have been exactly what happened.”
[…]
“Paying cash bribes to boat crews amounts to people trafficking,” Sarah Hanson-Young, a Greens senator, said Saturday in a statement. “The government does not have a mandate to break the law or a blank check to allow handing over wads of cash in the middle of the ocean.” She said Parliament had a responsibility to find out what had happened.

 

The technicality blocking Obama’s immigration order

Excerpt from a Reuters explanation of the tricky technicality forming the basis of the Federal court ruling out of Texas that blocks President Obama’s immigration executive orders from moving forward:

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen avoided diving into sweeping constitutional questions or tackling presidential powers head-on. Instead, he faulted Obama for not giving public notice of his plans.

The failure to do so, Hanen wrote, was a violation of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice in a publication called the Federal Register as well as an opportunity for people to submit views in writing.

 
There’s a longer, more spelled out version further down in the article.

The other point of interest/concern in this story, not commented upon in the article, is that the lawsuit was brought by 26 state governments. As our writer Sasha examined in an article in December 2014, Republican State Attorneys General have been repeatedly acting in concert to file coordinated, mass lawsuits against the Obama Administration on every conceivable issue. Executive orders and actions have been a particularly favored target.

I don’t know exactly which states are involved in this particular, but I’m betting it’s most (if not all) of the states with Republican Attorneys General (since they control about that many at the moment).

US-Mexico border fence at Tijuana and San Diego by the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: JamesReyes)

US-Mexico border fence at Tijuana and San Diego by the Pacific Ocean. (Credit: JamesReyes)

The Globalist | Political Courage: Merkel Vs. Cameron

The following originally appeared in The Globalist.

In politics, doing the right thing should be done for its own sake, not for tactical reasons.

At the start of the New Year, the world leader who deserves praise in this regard is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the face of rising anti-Islamic protests in her country – a Dresden hate rally on December 22, 2014 reached a record 17,500 people – she chose to condemn the protests directly in her New Year’s speech.

“There is no place here for stirring up hatred and telling lies about people who have come to us from other countries,” she said.

Merkel added that the protest leaders had “prejudice, coldness or even hatred in their hearts” and observed that their clever rhetoric masks an ugly message that “You don’t belong, because of the color of your skin, or your religion.”

A spokesperson for the Chancellor followed up this pronouncement with the following statement:

“In Germany, there is no place for stirring up hatred against believers, for propaganda against religions of any sort, no place for right-wing extremism, and no place for xenophobia. The entire German government is united in its condemnation of any such thing.”

 
Lest readers believe this was an easy course of action requiring little thought, consider that a new poll by Forsa for Stern magazine. It found that 13% of Germans would attend an anti-Muslim rally in their own community — and 29% believed the rallies were justified.

Cameron’s response

Contrast Ms. Merkel’s determination in the face of a rising tide of xenophobic hate with Prime Minister David Cameron’s positioning. All that he has mustered is a weak rejection, even uncomfortable accommodation, of Britain’s mounting xenophobia and anti-immigrant views in the political sphere and general population.

Mr. Cameron has cowered before the growing power of UKIP and his own party’s more distasteful right wing, as the anti-outside-world politicians in Britain have surged to victories in the EU elections and parliamentary by-elections.

Conclusion

Chancellor Merkel deserves praise for standing fast against political extremism, anti-immigrant activists and anti-Muslim sentiments. Other elected global leaders would do well to learn from her example in the New Year’s speech and actually lead on this issue in 2015.

Pictured: Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, May 2012, watching a Chelsea vs. Munich soccer match during the G8 summit. (White House Photo)

Pictured: Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama, and Chancellor Angela Merkel, May 2012, watching a Chelsea vs. Munich soccer match during the G8 summit. (White House Photo)


Additional note for clarity, for non-Globalist readers: Read more