No human is illegal – Tunisia, Italy, Europe…

Feb 15, 2011 by

No human is illegal – Tunisia, Italy, Europe…

“Tunisia migrants – Italy puts Europe on alert”
writes BBC today. Security vocabulary dominates this and other articles on migrations to Europe. We are bombarded with ‘warnings’, ‘police patrollings’, ‘devastating consequences’ …

What we read has nothing to do with what we see. A crowd of people, of families with children, carrying a few pieces of luggage. Vulnerable and hopeful. Since the Tuniesian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali went into exile, the country has been ravaged by chaos, crime and  poverty. They come  in search of jobs and a better future. This is not a crime and should not be treated as such.

Europe cannot support the fall of dictators and fail to acknowledge the conditions and aspirations of these people.  It cannot preach freedom without realizing that this is not just an abstract concept, a Freedom with a grand F, but a freedom TO… to  move, to fight for a better tomorrow, to make choices. Asylum seekers swarming on the BBC photos had little choice – they are victims of the circumstances. They should not become victims of European failing policy, as well.

‘No human is illegal’ was a motto of Immigrants’ Worker’s Freedom Ride in 2003 in the US . Yale Professor Seyla Benhabib puts it on the first page of her  incredible contribution to the debate on immigration : ‘The Rights of Others.’ – an intellectual defense of and a powerful pladoyer for the betterment of life of aliens, residents and citizens. These people might be undocumented, but they must not be seen as illegal – the former term is positive, gives them a perspective of acquiring ‘papers’, the latter is negative – fosters discrimination and puts a human outside the law, giving them no possibilities (unless the law changes).

I do not wish to deny the existence of a serious problem for both Europe and America – the high number of migrants from  underdeveloped countries. However, and here is the difference, this is and should be presented as a political problem that requires a strategy and a political solution, and  not as a security problem. Increasing patrolling forces and  building walls are not solutions but barricades  signifying a failure or an absence of a long-term policy. Walls are not constructions worthy of states that pride themselves to be democracies.

I do not have a policy myself. But I believe that the first thing to do is COMMUNICATE – not just with Brussels, Mr. Berlusconi, but directly with these people. So that they feel not just objects to, but subjects of the law and policy. We should not treat them like flies that can be turned away with a slight of hand that will later sign another document with values of Liberty, Equality, Solidarity and others mentioned in it.

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