Shifting Public Views on Legal Immigration Into the US

Lots of good data here, suggesting more limited support for Trump administration policies:

Many unaware that most immigrants in the U.S. are here legally.

Since 2001, decline in the share saying legal immigration should be decreasedWhile there has been considerable attention on illegal immigration into the U.S. recently, opinions about legal immigration have undergone a long-term change. Support for increasing the level of legal immigration has risen, while the share saying legal immigration should decrease has fallen.

The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 5-12 among 2,002 adults, finds that 38% say legal immigration into the United States should be kept at its present level, while 32% say it should be increased and 24% say it should be decreased.

Since 2001, the share of Americans who favor increased legal immigration into the U.S. has risen 22 percentage points (from 10% to 32%), while the share who support a decrease has declined 29 points (from 53% to 24%).

The shift is mostly driven by changing views among Democrats. The share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who say legal immigration into the U.S. should be increased has doubled since 2006, from 20% to 40%.

Growing share of Democrats support increased legal immigration into the U.S.Republicans’ views also have changed, though more modestly. The share of Republicans and Republican leaners who say legal immigration should be decreased has fallen 10 percentage points since 2006, from 43% to 33%.

Still, about twice as many Republicans (33%) as Democrats (16%) support cutting legal immigration into the U.S.

The new survey, which was largely conducted before the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border involving immigrant children being separated from their parents, finds deep and persistent partisan divisions in a number of attitudes toward immigrants, as well as widespread misperceptions among the public overall about the share of the immigrant population in the U.S. that is in this country illegally:

Fewer than half of Americans know that most immigrants in the U.S. are here legally. Just 45% of Americans say that most immigrants living in the U.S. are here legally; 35% say most immigrants are in the country illegally, while 6% volunteer that about half are here legally and half illegally and 13% say they don’t know. In 2015, the most recent year for which data are available, lawful immigrants accounted for about three-quarters of the foreign-born population in the United States.

Republicans are split in their views of undocumented immigrantsMost feel sympathy toward unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) are very or somewhat sympathetic toward immigrants who are in the United States illegally. That view has changed little since 2014, when a surge of unaccompanied children from Central America attempted to enter the U.S. at the border. An overwhelming share of Democrats (86%) say they are sympathetic toward immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, compared with about half of Republicans (48%) .

Fewer say granting legal status to unauthorized immigrants is a “reward.”Just 27% of Americans say that giving people who are in the U.S. illegally a way to gain legal status is like rewarding them for doing something wrong. More than twice as many (67%) say they don’t think of it this way. Since 2015, the share saying that providing legal status for those in the U.S. illegally is akin to a “reward” for doing something wrong has declined 9 percentage points. (Americans also broadly support granting legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.)

Most Americans do not think undocumented immigrants are more likely to commit serious crimes. Large majorities of Americans say that undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are not more likely than U.S. citizens to commit serious crimes (65% say this) and that undocumented immigrants mostly fill jobs citizens don’t want (71% say this). These opinions, which also are divided along partisan lines, are virtually unchanged since 2016.

Most people who encounter immigrants who do not speak English well aren’t bothered by this. Most Americans say they often (47%) or sometimes (27%) come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English. Among those who say this, just 26% say it bothers them, while 73% say it does not. The share saying they are bothered by immigrants speaking little or no English has declined by 12 percentage points since 2006 (from 38% to 26%) and 19 points since 1993 (from 45%).

Source: Shifting Public Views on Legal Immigration Into the US

The Guardian view on attitudes to immigration: focus on people, not numbers

Sensible suggestion:

Given what is already known about the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy, the discovery that hundreds of people, legally in the UK, were wrongly detained between 2010 and 2017 is not surprising. That makes it no less shocking.

Figures released to parliament’s home affairs select committee show that the government has paid tens of millions of pounds in compensation to victims of these egregious errors. But perhaps most illuminating is the revelation of staff bonuses for meeting “personal objectives” linked to enforced removals.

Confusion and obfuscation over deportation targets led ultimately to Amber Rudd’s resignation as home secretary. The use of financial incentives to meet targets adds another layer of perversion to a bureaucracy that plainly lost sight of the fact that it was dealing not with numbers but with human beings.

A lesson of the Windrush scandal is that public opinion towards real-life immigrants is more nuanced than public debate over the abstract thing called immigration. Harrowing individual stories elicited compassion and outrage. It was not a turning of the political tide, but it felt like a significant current.

Government policy is still skewed by the presumption that voters demand strict immigration regimes. That imperative is paramount in Theresa May’s conspicuously unsuccessful Brexit strategy. It comes as little consolation that the rest of the EU is struggling with the same issue. The difficulty in finding a common position on border control, and the potentially destabilising consequences of failing to do so, dominate the agenda at the European summit that began today.

There is no diplomatic bandwidth for discussing Brexit, and the UK is judged to have removed itself from any other top-table conversation among continental leaders. Yet even Brexit will not neutralise anti-immigration feeling in the UK, which pre-dates the leave campaign and was co-opted by it to foment hostility to the EU. Brexit was mis-sold as the antidote to deeper economic and cultural anxieties. Now it is a distraction from the task of addressing those concerns.

Liberal opinion has for years been divided on how to acknowledge concern about rapid demographic change without indulging prejudice. Not everyone who is worried about immigration is racist, but every racist resents immigration. Political rhetoric does not always permit nuanced distinction between the two positions. Trumpeting the economic benefits of immigration doesn’t persuade those who suspect such benefits are enjoyed by elites, elsewhere. But colluding in the narrative that immigration is a drain on prosperity does nothing to shift opinion towards greater tolerance.

There is no guaranteed method for spreading positive attitudes, but endorsing negative views in the hope of mollifying hostility hasn’t served the liberal cause well. A more effective device, as the Windrush scandal proved, is the telling of individual stories, tracing the contours of the real migrant experience as distinct from faceless abstraction.

Politicians who trade on fear of migrants achieve their goal by dehumanisation – conjuring sinister floods and hordes. The antidote is re-humanisation – bringing the conversation back to real people with real hopes and real contributions to make to society. The xenophobes are winning an argument framed around abstract numbers and targets. They can be disoriented, and ultimately defeated, when those numbers are shown to be human beings.

Source: The Guardian view on attitudes to immigration: focus on people, not numbers

UK: Wrongful detention cost £21m as immigration staff chased bonuses

Yet more evidence of the rot within the Home Office’s approach to immigration:

The Home Office mistakenly detained more than 850 people between 2012 and 2017, some of whom were living in the UK legally, and the government was forced to pay out more than £21m in compensation as a result, officials have revealed.

Figures released to the home affairs select committee this week show there were 171 cases of wrongful immigration detention in 2015-16, triggering compensation payments totalling £4.1m, and 143 cases in 2016–17, triggering a further £3.3m in compensation.

Between 2012 and 2015 a total of £13.8m was paid out to more than 550 people after a period of unlawful immigration detention.

The document also reveals that bonuses were paid to both senior and junior Home Office staff according to whether targets for enforced removals from the country had been met. Some staff were set “personal objectives” on which bonus payments were made “linked to targets to achieve enforced removals”.

The detention figures give no detail about who was mistakenly held, although it is likely that these numbers contain some Windrush individuals who were wrongly sent to immigration removal centres or prisons ahead of deportation.

Cases are known of Windrush individuals who were nearly deported, such as Anthony Bryan, who was sent to an immigration detention centre last December and booked by Home Office staff on a flight back to Jamaica, a country he had not visited since he was eight. A last-minute intervention by an immigration lawyer meant his seat on the flight was cancelled and he was released from detention.

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has promised to provide figures next month for how many Windrush people were wrongly put in immigration detention; he has already acknowledged that 63 Windrush people were deported in error.

At least 10 people were paid about £120,000 each in compensation in the past two years although the majority of payouts were £20,000 or less, the permanent secretary to the home office, Philip Rutnam, explained in a letter to the home affairs select committee chair, Labour’s Yvette Cooper.

A small number of individuals who were wrongly detained received just a nominal payment of £1. Compensation is determined in part on an assessment of the “initial shock” experienced by those detained and is based also on whether the individual had any criminal convictions.

Some of those who received compensation payments were living in the UK legally. Other compensation payments were made to people who had no leave to remain in the UK but who had been detained for too long.

Rutnam, the most senior Home Office official, tried to minimise the significance of the numbers detained mistakenly, noting that this represented a small proportion of the total detained under immigration enforcement measures.

“By way of scale comparison, to support enforcement of the UK’s immigration law over 27,000 people are detained each year under immigration powers, with up to 3,000 people detained in either the detention estate or prisons at any one time,” he wrote. “Ninety-five per cent of people who are liable to removal are managed in the community, rather than in detention.”

But Labour’s Stephen Doughty, who sits on the home affairs committee, said: “These figures expose what many of us have warned for months: that the government has been wrongfully locking up individuals as well as wrongfully deporting others.

“The immigration system needs root and branch reform. How are millions of EU nationals to have any confidence in a system that wrongly deports and locks up people?”

The letter also gives details of performance targets in place for enforced removals from the UK, noting that these were in operation as early as 2000 (under Labour) and continued after 2010 (referred to in a variety of different ways – sometimes as “objectives”, or “business goals” or sometimes simply as “levels of ambition”).

Rutnam acknowledges that civil servants working within immigration enforcement received performance bonuses for good work, some of which is related to removals. In 2016-17, 23% of people working in immigration enforcement received an end-of-year bonus.

Confusion over whether removals targets were in place led to the previous home secretary Amber Rudd’s resignation in April, when she said “that’s not how we operate” in response to questions from Cooper over removals targets. Rudd said later: “I wasn’t aware of specific removal targets. I accept I should have been and I’m sorry that I wasn’t.”

Rutnam indicates that targets will no longer be in operation for deportation, noting that Javid has said he wants to “take stock on targets overall” and “specifically that he does not believe in quantified targets for removals and this, of course, is the basis on which we will be proceeding in the future”.

Source: Wrongful detention cost £21m as immigration staff chased bonuses

Judge suspends Quebec face-covering ban, says it appears to violate charter

Not a major surprise:

The portion of Quebec’s religious neutrality law that dictates when Quebecers must leave their faces uncovered in order to receive public services has been suspended for a second time, only days before it was slated to go into effect.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Marc-André Blanchard issued the ruling Thursday, handing another victory to civil liberties groups that argue the law discriminates against Muslim women who wear niqab​s or burkas.

Blanchard said Section 10, which pertains to face coverings, appears to be “a violation” of the Canadian and Quebec charters, which “provide for freedom of conscience and religion.”

The judge concluded that “irreparable harm will be caused to Muslim women” if the relevant section of the law had gone into effect on July 1.

He ordered Section 10 suspended until a challenge to the law is heard in court.

The same portion of the law was suspended in December.

In that ruling, another Quebec Superior Court justice ordered the provincial government to produce accommodation guidelines dictating how the restrictions on face coverings would work in practice.

Those guidelines are slated to go into effect July 1, but the sections on face coverings will now no longer apply.

The civil rights groups challenging the law argued the guidelines place a greater burden on the individuals affected.

“We’re very happy with the decision,” said Catherine McKenzie, who was part of the legal team that challenged the law’s constitutionality on behalf of Warda Naili, a Quebec woman who wears a niqab.

“This law has an important impact on women who cover their faces for religious reasons. Women were going to be potentially cut off from very basic services so it was important for us to ask for the law to be stayed again.”

‘Confusion and uncertainty’

In his ruling, Blanchard also noted there is still “confusion and uncertainty” about how the process will work.

The guidelines, released in May, state that exemptions to the law, previously known as Bill 62, can only be granted to individuals on religious grounds if the demand is serious, doesn’t violate the rights of others and doesn’t impose “undue hardships.”

The Quebec government left it up to individual public bodies, however, to decide how to handle accommodation requests, and requires each body to appoint an official to make those decisions.

The office of Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée, who has been the point person on the law, said it is analyzing the judgment and that it is still within the 30-day appeal period.

When the guidelines were announced in May, Vallée said each request needs to be taken in its own context.

“If a person wearing a burka or a niqab wants to make a request, that request will be processed,” said Vallée.

“It would be determined on a case by case [basis], following a request. Is this someone who has a sincere belief who is wearing this piece of clothing regularly, in their daily life, or if the request is being put forward with the aim of getting an advantage.”

Source: Judge suspends Quebec face-covering ban, says it appears to violate charter

Biggest immigration fraudster in Canadian history left $900K fine unpaid

Not right even if Parole Board was compelled given the law and regulations:

The man imprisoned for committing the biggest immigration scam in Canadian history was released on early parole even though he had not paid more than $900,000 in fines and “minimized his criminal behaviour,” according to a November 2017 Parole Board of Canada decision obtained by CBC News.

The board also noted Xun (Sunny) Wang had transferred all of his assets to his spouse “to avoid the Canada Revenue Agency fines.”

Despite “concerns,” the parole board was compelled to free Wang after he served one-third of his 7-year sentence, because he’s not at risk of committing a violent offence and his behaviour behind bars was “appropriate.”

Wang, 49, was convicted of bringing more than 1,000 people illegally into Canada by falsifying passport entries, faking job offers and supplying them with bogus Canadian home addresses, to thwart immigration requirements.

The tactics made it appear his clients had spent the required two years out of every five in Canada to maintain their permanent residency status.

Instead, many spent most of their time living in China.  ​

At his trial in 2015, the court heard Wang made $10 million through his two immigration-consulting companies, New Can Consulting and Wellong International Investments Ltd.

The Canada Border Services Agency released this picture of passports seized from Xun Wang, as part of an investigation into his immigration fraud scheme. (CBSA)

Wang was sentenced to seven years behind bars minus time served in custody and ordered to pay two fines: $730,837 to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for tax evasion and $187,901.24 for defrauding the federal government — a total of almost $920,000.

Promise to mortgage home

In reviewing his pending release in November, the parole board admonished Wang, stating “you have indicated you do not believe you owe the CRA any money.”

But it noted that when “confronted” on his defiant attitude, Wang indicated he would pay the fines by having his home mortgaged.

Seven months later, a check of Wang’s Richmond, B.C., residence on the province’s land registry website shows no mortgage listed.

The Canada Revenue Agency declined to say if Wang has paid his fine, citing privacy.

Approached outside his home by a T.V. crew from the Radio-Canada investigative program Enquête, Wang refused comment, instead calling Richmond RCMP to complain about the presence of a news camera on his street. The RCMP declined to attend.

‘It’s unfair and an injustice’

The fact that Wang is now a free man infuriates former client Zheng Li (Jenny) Geng, who lives in Vancouver and is facing deportation because Wang was her immigration consultant.

Geng says she had no idea Wang was breaking the law. And she’s surprised he’s now a free man while she faces a pending removal hearing.

“I feel it’s unfair and an injustice,” Geng said through an interpreter. “I’m a little angry because I think if he had paid the penalty, things might not have happened to me.”

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been conducting an ongoing investigation since Wang’s immigration scam was uncovered, reviewing the cases of his 1,677 former clients.

1,081 ex-clients face removal

To date, the CBSA says:

  • 608 permanent residents have been reported for inadmissibility;
  • 221 who obtained Canadian citizenship could be stripped of their status;
  • 252 others have “lost their status through other process,” including voluntarily giving up their permanent residency or citizenship.

That’s a total of 1,081 of Wang’s ex-clients who face deportation or have already left Canada.

Source: Biggest immigration fraudster in Canadian history left $900K fine unpaid

Migration to Europe Is Down Sharply. So Is It Still a ‘Crisis’? – The New York Times

Good updated data:

On the beaches of Greece, thousands of migrants landed every day. In the ports of Italy, thousands landed every week. Across the borders of Germany, Austria and Hungary, hundreds of thousands passed every month.

But that was in 2015.

Three years after the peak of Europe’s migration crisis, Greek beachesare comparatively calm. Since last August, the ports of Sicily have been fairly empty. And here on the remote island of Lampedusa — the southernmost point of Italy and once the front line of the crisis — the migrant detention center has been silent for long stretches. Visitors to the camp on Monday could hear only the sound of bird song.

“It’s the quietest it’s been since 2011,” said the island’s mayor, Salvatore Martello. “The number of arrivals has dramatically reduced.”

It is the paradox of Europe’s migration crisis: The actual number of arriving migrants is back to its pre-2015 level, even as the politics of migration continue to shake the Continent.

On Thursday, leaders of the European Union are gathering in Brussels for a fraught meeting on migration that could hasten the political demise of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and unravel the bloc’s efforts to form a coherent migration policy.

The precipitous drop in migrant arrivals doesn’t mean that Europe is without real challenges. Countries are still struggling to absorb the roughly 1.8 million sea arrivals since 2014. Public anxiety has risen in countries like Germany after high-profile assaults involving migrants, including the killing of a 19-year-old German student and the terrorist attack on a Christmas market that killed 12 people.

And leaders still have sharp disagreements about who should take responsibility for the newcomers — border states like Greece and Italy, where most migrants enter Europe; or wealthier countries like Germany, which many migrants subsequently attempt to reach.

But what is striking is how many leaders, particularly in far-right parties, continue to successfully create the impression that Europe is a continent under siege from migrants, even as the numbers paint a very different picture.29

“We have failed to defend ourselves against the migrant invasion,” Viktor Orban, the far-right prime minister of Hungary, said in a recent speech. He has made it a jailable offense for Hungarians to assist undocumented migrants.

Nor is Mr. Orban alone in taking a hard line. Since the start of the month, Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, has closed Italy’s ports to charity-run rescue boats. Horst Seehofer, the German interior minister, has threatened to turn back refugees at his country’s southern border. And across the Atlantic, President Trump has claimed, wrongly, that migration led to a crime epidemic in Germany.

The tactics seem to have worked. Data released this month by the European Union showed that Europeans are more concerned about immigration than about any other social challenge. Mr. Salvini’s party is now leading in Italian polls, up 10 percentage points since an electionin March. Mr. Orban won re-election in April with an increased majority, after a campaign in which he focused almost exclusively on migration.

Even on Lampedusa, Mr. Martello won the mayoralty last year by promising to focus more on local issues than on burnishing the island’s international reputation as a place of sanctuary for migrants.

But the reality on the ground is that, despite the rhetoric, migration is back to pre-crisis levels — and has been for some time.

More than 850,000 asylum seekers arrived in Greece in 2015, with most of them eventually making their way to northern European countries like Germany. So far this year, little more than 13,000 have made the same journey. More than 150,000 people arrived in Italy in 2015; the number so far this year is less than 17,000. In 2016, when applications were at their highest, more than 62,000 people sought asylum in Germany, on average, every month. This year, that average has fallen to little more than 15,000 — the lowest since 2013.

On Lampedusa, more than 21,000 migrants landed in 2015. So far this year, the figure is less than 1,100. Only in Spain have arrival numbers risen, from more than 16,000 in all of 2015 to just over 17,000 so far in 2018. But the increase is still comparatively small — more people would arrive in a single week on the Greek island of Lesbos at the height of the crisis than are likely to arrive in Spain this year.

“It’s an invented crisis,” said Matteo Villa, a migration specialist at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies. “The high flows of the last years have bolstered nationalist parties, who are now creating a crisis of their own in order to score cheap political points.”

Mr. Salvini and Mr. Orban have cultivated popular support by creating the impression that they are the only leaders willing to make the tough decisions needed to reduce migration. Yet the European establishment, under pressure from the likes of Mr. Orban and Mr. Salvini, has been quietly working for some time with the main gatekeepers along the migration trails to Europe, including with authoritarian regimes, to bring the numbers down.

In Italy, arrival numbers plummeted after Mr. Salvini’s predecessor controversially persuaded several militias to halt the smuggling industry in northern Libya, and to keep thousands of would-be migrants in dangerous conditions in makeshift Libyan detention centers.

“The measures implemented by the previous government, which Salvini was so critical of, have actually been effective,” said Andrew Geddes, director of the Migration Policy Center at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

At the same time, several European governments have made deportation agreements with Sudan, whose leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been charged with war crimes charges. A deal with Nigerhas helped a crackdown on smuggling in the Western Sahara. And most controversially, the German and Dutch governments brokered a European Union deal in 2016 with the authoritarian government of Turkey that led to an immediate and drastic drop in migration to Greece.

Lesbos, Greece, in 2015, and in March 2018. Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times; Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

“The paradox is that, in this narrative that Merkel opened the E.U.’s borders, it was in fact Merkel, with the Dutch, who negotiated the most effective agreement on the borders of the E.U.,” said Gerald Knaus, director of the European Stability Initiative, a Berlin-based research group that first proposed the deal, and that drafted early versions of it.

Now Europe’s challenge is largely about process: How to house asylum seekers waiting for decisions on their cases; how to integrate them into the economy and into society if their applications are approved; and how to deport them if not. These challenges remain as officials also have yet to fully address the squalid migrant camps of Greece, which house roughly half of the country’s 60,000 asylum seekers, or the underground economy of Italy, where many of the country’s 500,000 undocumented migrants are exploited.

The European Union summit meeting that opens on Thursday is a reminder of how much the political landscape has shifted. Ms. Merkel, the German chancellor who was once the Continent’s unassailable leader, now needs to secure an agreement with other European leaders to stave off a political crisis at home.

Her rebellious Bavarian interior minister, Mr. Seehofer, has threatened to close Germany’s border with Austria to asylum seekers who have already registered elsewhere in Europe, usually in Greece or Italy. Ms. Merkel wants to avoid this, as it would most likely set off a domino effect of stricter border controls across the Continent. That would obstruct the movement not just of refugees but also of European Union citizens, endangering one of the bloc’s core values: free movement between member states.

Mr. Seehofer has agreed to wait while Ms. Merkel tries to negotiate at the summit meeting an improved asylum system for the European Union, but this seems a distant prospect, as no one can agree what that system should look like. Some leaders, like Mr. Orban in Hungary, say that Europe should simply protect its borders without worrying about the complexities of its asylum system.

The Keleti train station in central Budapest, Hungary, in 2015 and this month. Mauricio Lima for The New York Times; Akos Stiller for The New York Times

“If we defend our borders, the debate on the distribution of migrants becomes meaningless, as they won’t be able to enter,” he said in a speech this month.

Others, like Ms. Merkel, want to reduce migration but acknowledge it cannot be ended entirely unless Europe abandons the right to asylum that was enshrined in the international conventions that emerged in the aftermath of World War II.

To uphold this right while also curbing migration, officials in Brussels want to set up offshore hubs to process asylum applications in Africa, while some analysts argue it would be easier and cheaper to invest in more efficient asylum systems in Greece and Italy — and to secure more deportation agreements with the countries migrants are originally from.

Meanwhile, anti-immigrant leaders, if capitalizing on the migration issue, are hardly unified. Italy wants to scrap the Dublin regulations, which stipulate that asylum seekers must stay in the European Union country in which they first register, and distribute migrants throughout the bloc. But hard-liners like Mr. Orban, Mr. Seehofer and Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz of Austria refuse to share Italy and Greece’s burden.

“Their proposals are fundamentally contradictory,” Mr. Knaus said. “Salvini and the Italians want to get rid of Dublin and share everyone throughout Europe. The Bavarians want to push everyone back to Austria. And Kurz says that’s fine — we’ll then send them to Italy and Hungary.”

And far away on Lampedusa, this makes the debate seem less about the specifics of migration management, and more about the widening chasm between liberal and illiberal forces in Europe.

It is “an ideological war,” said Mr. Martello, the mayor. “Europe is divided into two main blocs: One is defending the borders, and the other is actually doing something about the situation.”

via Migration to Europe Is Down Sharply. So Is It Still a ‘Crisis’? – The New York Times

How Does Immigration Drive the Success of the Radical Right in Europe? New Report Assesses the Record in Nordic Countries – MPI

Another relevant report from MPI:

Though elections in Austria, Germany and France in 2017 and recent electoral outcomes in Italy and Hungary have demonstrated the rising power of radical-right parties in Europe, the phenomenon is hardly new in most Nordic countries. Denmark, Finland and Norway have radical-right parties that trace their roots back to at least the 1970s. And more recently, the Sweden Democrats established themselves at the national level in 2010.

Even as the Sweden Democrats, Danish People’s Party, the Finns Party and Norway’s Progress Party have been a far cry from capturing a majority of the vote in recent elections, their rise has been accompanied by an observable shift in public attitudes toward migration. The result: a hardening of asylum and immigration policies over the last decade, especially since the European migration crisis began in 2015. Nordic governments have introduced—and in some cases loudly celebrated—policies to reduce family reunification, restrict access to refugee and other protected statuses and limit access to public assistance benefits for non-nationals.

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, The Growth of the Radical Right in Nordic Countries: Observations from the Past 20 Years, analyzes the rise and current dynamics of radical-right parties in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

In all four countries, immigration has become a core policy area for the radical right. But as author Anders Widfeldt notes, the electoral success of such parties cannot be tied neatly back to shifting levels of immigration or to public opinion of immigrants. A web of other factors—including how the parties are managed and the personalities of their leaders—are also at play.

“The marriage of a populist economic agenda that prioritizes welfare support for nationals in need with deep skepticism of immigration has proven to be a potent recipe for success, though the exact formula that parties adopt varies,” Widfeldt writes.

In responding to the radical right’s growth in popularity, mainstream political parties have taken three main approaches: co-opting radical-right policies in a bid to win over their opponents’ voters, accommodating the parties in government or isolating them by excluding them from governing coalitions. Yet, the author notes, there is little consistent evidence of which of these approaches (if any) are effective. And just as immigration is likely to remain high on the political agenda, radical-right parties are likely to continue to influence migration policy debates.

Read the report here:

It is the second in a Transatlantic Council series, “The Future of Migration Policy in a Volatile Political Landscape.” As governments in Europe and North America grapple with growing skepticism about immigration and a rise in populism, the Council examined whether and how this new political reality has changed immigration policymaking.

Additional reports will be published over the summer and collected here:

Minister Joly Launches New Funding for Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives

Press release on the implementation of the increased funding in the 2018 Budget. Interesting that they have kept part of the Conservative approach of having an events stream, not just projects, along with a new stream supporting on-line capacity building. Also of note the use of “radicalized” rather than “visible minorities”:

Diversity is Canada’s strength and a cornerstone of Canadian identity. We are a stronger and more successful country because of our diversity. Unfortunately, too many Canadians face barriers and challenges that prevent them from fully participating in society and the economy. The Government is taking action to fund community-led projects and events that address these challenges, such as the elimination of racism and discrimination, in order to build a stronger and more inclusive society.

Today, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Multiculturalism, announced three new funding streams that will strengthen diverse communities and support anti-racism initiatives across the country. The government is investing a total of $51.9 million over 3 years, which includes $21 million in new funding for community-led projects, events and capacity building initiatives.

The Projects component will fund community-led activities that work toward the elimination of discrimination, racism and prejudice, with a priority for those supporting Indigenous Peoples and racialized women and girls.

The Events component will fund local events that promote intercultural and interfaith understanding as well as celebrations of a community’s history and culture, such as heritage months recognized by Parliament.

The Community Capacity Building component will fund projects that will help recipients promote diversity and inclusion by strengthening the online and social media presence of organizations, establishing their communication strategies as well as enabling them to recruit and train volunteers.


“Although Canada is a welcoming and diverse country, our government knows that we can always do better. That’s why we are proud to launch funding for initiatives that will celebrate our diversity, embrace our differences and address issues of racism and discrimination. By encouraging mutual understanding between all Canadians, programs like this will help build a society where everyone feels a true sense of belonging and can fully participate in their communities.”

—The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Multiculturalism

“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Multiculturalism Act. To mark this occasion, we are renewing our commitment to the principles of pluralism and inclusion contained in this important statute. By supporting projects, events and initiatives that combat racism and discrimination, we are reinvesting in our communities and fostering Canada’s diversity, which is our greatest strength.”

—Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism)

Quick Facts

Those interested in applying for funding under these new initiatives are encouraged to contact Canadian Heritage at

In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada announced $23 million in new funding over two years to tackle racism and discrimination, with a focus on Indigenous Peoples and racialized women and girls. This funding included $21 million to support funding resources for anti-racism and community support, and $2 million to engage Canadians on a new anti-racism approach.

The government is investing a total of $51.9 million over 3 years, which includes the $21 million in new funding for community-led projects, events and capacity building initiatives.

The Government of Canada remains committed to meaningful, evidence-based and community-involved whole-of-government initiatives in the pursuit of equality and growth for all Canadians.

Canada is continuing to combat the inequity and exclusion that prevents some Canadians from participating fully and equitably in our society.

Source: Minister Joly Launches New Funding for Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives

Netherlands Approves Partial Ban on Face Coverings – The New York Times

Good overview of the state of various face covering (niqab, burqa) laws:

The Dutch parliament’s Upper House has approved a partial ban on face coverings in some public areas, a spokesman said, making the Netherlands the latest European nation to pass a law that directly affects the lives of Muslim women.

The law, approved on Tuesday, puts the Netherlands, a country of about 17 million people, in company with France, Belgium, Denmark and other countries in Europe and North America that penalize Muslim women who either partly or fully cover their faces in public.

Supporters of such bans say they are necessary to protect public safety, defend Western values or encourage migrants to assimilate into their new societies.

But rights groups say they discriminate against Muslim women, some of whom view garments like niqabs, which cover a woman’s face but for a narrow slit left for the eyes, and burqas, which cover the entire face, as a religious obligation.

Here is a look at efforts in Europe and North America to restrict the wearing of face-covering garments in public.

The Netherlands

The law, which was passed by the Upper House by a 43 to 32 vote, according to the body’s press officer, Gert Riphagen, on Wednesday, prohibits wearing face coverings at schools, government offices and hospitals. The rules about facial coverings also apply to people covering their faces with ski masks and full face helmets, he said, but they do not apply to the street.

The law could take effect on Jan. 1 after the internal affairs ministry has discussions on how to enforce it, said Mr. Riphagen.

The vote was backed by eight parties, Mr. Riphagen said, some of which have embraced anti-Islam rhetoric, including the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, the far-right politician, who first proposed the idea in 2005 and tweeted his support of the passage. Four parties, mostly progressive liberals and left-wing Democrats, voted against it, Mr. Riphagen said.

Annelies Moors, a professor of anthropology and sociology at the University of Amsterdam, studied the impact of the ban before it was passed and watched the vote proceedings on Tuesday via live stream. She said that backers of the ban had defended it by saying full-face veils hinder communications and impede government service. But she said the action disproportionately affected women in the country’s population of less than a million Muslims. Dr. Moors said she and other researchers had estimated there were fewer than 500 Muslim women who wear the full face coverings.

“It is harmful to one particular group,” Dr. Moors said. “It excludes them from being able to participate in society. They can’t even take public transportation.”


Switzerland’s cabinet said on Wednesday that it opposed a campaign pushing for a nationwide ban on facial coverings in public spaces, saying such decisions about public space should be made by individual cantons.

“The cantons should decide for themselves whether or not to ban facial coverings in public places,” the statement said. “The initiative would make it impossible to take into account the individual cantons’ differing sensitivities, in particular removing their ability to determine for themselves how they wish to treat tourists from Arab states who wear facial coverings.”

The cabinet was responding to an initiative called “Yes to a ban on full facial coverings,” which has collected more than 100,000 signatures to demand provisions in the law making it illegal for people to cover their faces anywhere in public, according to the statement.

The push includes some of those who led a 2009 ban on building new minarets, Reuters reported. About 5 percent of Switzerland’s 8.5 million residents are Muslims, the news agency said.


On June 2, The Times reported that on May 28:

Parliament approved a law to ban the wearing of full-face coverings in public, mostly seen as directed at the Islamic veil. And the immigration minister recently stirred controversy by suggesting that fasting Muslims were a danger to society.
The Associated Press reported in May that Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen said law enforcement officers should use “common sense” when they see possible violations before the law goes into effect on Aug. 1.

Last year, The Times examined efforts to restrict the wearing of face covering garments. Here is a version of that breakdown.


In October, the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec made it a crime to wear a face-covering garment in public, a move that critics derided as discriminatory against Muslim women.

The law was the first of its kind in North America. It barred people with face coverings from receiving public services, such as riding a bus, or from working in government jobs, such as a doctor or teacher. They also cannot receive publicly funded health care while covering their faces.

Quebec’s minister of justice, Stéphanie Vallée, said the law fostered social cohesion. Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, called it “an unnecessary law with a made-up solution to an invented problem.”


Austria’s ban on wearing full-face coverings in public — including in universities, on public transportation and in courthouses — also took effect last October. Though aimed at women wearing burqas or niqabs, the law applies to everyone, with exceptions for artists and people wearing scarves in cold weather. Violators can be fined 150 euros, or about $175.

The measure was part of a legislative package passed before Austria’s national election last year, which was dominated by debate over immigration. The election saw the far-right Freedom Party enter into government under a new conservative chancellor, Sebastian Kurz. In the first six months after the law was enacted, the police reported 30 violations, only four of which involved Muslim women, Austrian news media reported.


In 2011, France became the first country in Western Europe to ban face-covering garments like the burqa or niqab in public, although the law did not explicitly mention Islam. The move made it illegal to cover one’s face in public places, including streets and stores, as a security measure. Those who break the law face fines of up to 150 euros.

The law has been divisive in France, which has long been rived by tensions between its Muslim population, Europe’s largest, and those who support the state ideology of secularism.

In 2016, a string of beach towns went one step further, driven in part by a string of deadly terrorist attacks, and banned the burkini, a full-body swimsuit worn by some Muslim women.


A law that banned face-covering garments in public also went into effect in Belgium in 2011. Violators could be sentenced to seven days in prison and face a fine of 137.50 euros.

The law was quickly challenged in court by two Muslim women who said it violated their right to privacy and freedom of religion.

But in July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against them. It said it agreed with Belgium’s argument that the law was meant to “guarantee the conditions of ‘living together’ and the ‘protection of the rights and freedoms of others.’”


A law banning face coverings while driving took effect in Germany last year, coming on the heels of legislation prohibiting anyone in the civil service, military or working for an election from covering their faces.

Bavaria took the measure one step further, barring teachers and university professors from covering their faces.


Bulgaria banned face-covering garments in government offices, schools and cultural institutions in 2016.

Lawmakers who supported the measure denied it was discriminatory. They said it was intended to help the country respond to potential security issues posed by the migrant crisis.

via Netherlands Approves Partial Ban on Face Coverings – The New York Times

Poland’s ‘Holocaust law’ caused an outcry. Now, surprisingly, it’s being largely reversed

Better late than never in removing the most egregious aspects. But the fundamental denial remains:

When the Polish government pushed ahead with a controversial Holocaust speech law at the beginning of the year, the outcry was so swift and intense that even Polish lawmakers themselves appeared surprised. Besides Israel’s strong rejection of the Polish legislation, U.S. condemnations hit Warsaw policymakers especially hard.

And yet, for months, there were few signs of backtracking, even as the issue emerged as a key obstacle to Poland’s desire to bolster its security ties to the United States. But after an unexpected intervention by Poland’s prime minister on Wednesday, the law that was never enforced is now being largely walked back.

After the country’s right-wing governing party submitted a new draft, the lower house of parliament voted to remove criminal provisions Wednesday morning. This would stop courts from being able to use the law to impose prison terms of up to three years.

In caving in to international and domestic pressure, Poland’s right-wing Law and Justice party is taking a political gamble. While the changes are meant to soothe tensions with strategically important allies such as the United States and the European Union, Law and Justice also appeared eager to limit the political fallout among the party’s more extreme right-wing supporters.

At least rhetorically, the Polish government stood by its arguments that led to the law’s passage earlier this year.

“Those who say that Poland may be responsible for the crimes of World War II deserve jail terms,” Prime Minister said Wednesday. “But we operate in an international context, and we take that into account.”

The Polish government, Morawiecki emphasized, would continue its “fight for the truth” about the Holocaust regardless of possible changes to the legislation.

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2018 participants are wrapped into an Israeli flag as they arrive to the memorial site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Oswiecim to attend the annual “March of the Living.”

The bill’s international critics had long argued that it violates freedom of expression by essentially banning accusations that some Poles were complicit in Nazi crimes committed on Polish soil, including in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, where more than 1.1 million people died. Germany operated six camps in Poland where Jews and others whom the Nazis considered enemies were killed.

Polish officials emphasized early on that artistic and historical research work would not be affected by the ban, but critics cautioned that the law provided courts with too much room for interpretation and may silence debates on the issue, even though some scholars agreed that the Polish government was right in emphasizing that crimes were committed by individuals rather than the Polish state and that the term “Polish death camps” was wrong.

Poland was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1939, but unlike in other European countries, there was no collaborationist Polish government. About 6 million Polish citizens were killed during the Second World War, about half of them Jews.

Throughout years of Nazi occupation between 1939 and 1945, a number of Polish underground movements resisted the Nazis. It is that chapter of history that the Law and Justice Party wants to emphasize.

But historians have long argued that it is not the full story: Some Poles, they say, were complicit in the Nazi crimes. Historians have pointed to incidents, including a 1941 atrocity in the town of Jedwabne, in which Poles rounded up and killed their Jewish neighbors. Critics also said that the legislation was mainly intended to fuel nationalistic sentiments in the country.

In an early response to the law in February, the State Department similarly said that the phrase “Polish death camps” was “inaccurate, misleading, and hurtful.” But it also cautioned that the bill “could undermine free speech and academic discourse.”

In Israel, the reaction was even fiercer. “One cannot change history, and the Holocaust cannot be denied,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement in February. Other Israeli officials even compared the legislation to Holocaust denial.

The strong reactions eventually resulted in less outspoken Polish defences of the law itself, even as the government has stood by its reasoning to pass it.

Source: Poland’s ‘Holocaust law’ caused an outcry. Now, surprisingly, it’s being largely reversed