Monday, July 17, 2023

Immigration Backlashes Spread Around the World: Collapse of Netherlands Government is Latest Sign of Discord as Immigration Surges to Record Levels, Fueling Populism

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Record immigration to affluent countries is sparking bigger backlashes across the world, boosting populist parties and putting pressure on governments to tighten policies to stem the migration wave.
Many places, including Canada and parts of Europe and Asia, have been encouraging more migrants to come to help alleviate labor shortages and offset demographic declines.
But the jump in arrivals, along with increases in illegal immigration to the U.S. and Europe, is making more voters uneasy. The influx since the end of the pandemic is altering societies, with many people blaming immigrants for increases in crime and higher housing costs.
The Dutch government collapsed on Friday after parties failed to agree on new measures to restrict immigration that has soared to record levels, triggering new elections in the fall.
Anti-immigrant parties recently took power in Italy and Finland, and have started backing a minority government in Sweden. Austria’s far-right Freedom Party is leading national polls.
Around five million more people moved to affluent countries last year than left them, as Covid-era travel restrictions eased, rich-world labor shortages intensified, and economic problems in the developing world worsened. That was up 80% from prepandemic levels, according to a Wall Street Journal data analysis.
Photo: vincenzo livieri/Shutterstock
Polls across affluent countries show a jump in opposition to immigration, including in places that have been most welcoming to newcomers.
Roughly half of Canadians think the government’s new target of about a half-million immigrants a year is too many in a country of 40 million, while three-quarters worry the plan will result in excessive demand for housing and health and social services, according to a poll by Léger, a Montreal-based research company.
In the U.K., which has eased rules to attract more college graduates from abroad to fill skills shortages, nearly half of people think legal migration is too high, according to a March poll by Public First, a research consultancy.
In the U.S., where a large percentage of the population has long opposed immigration, attitudes have hardened over the past year: Americans’ satisfaction with the level of immigration into the U.S. declined to 28% in February, the lowest reading in a decade, from 34% a year earlier, according to Gallup polls.
And in France, which has been convulsed by violent protests after police shot and killed a teenager of North African origin, recent polls suggest that French far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who favors tighter rules on immigration, could win the country’s next presidential election.
Photo: ludovic marin/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Voters’ concerns typically center on illegal immigration, which tends to weigh on wages and social-welfare systems. Illegal entries across the Mediterranean into Europe and from Mexico to the U.S. have surged to record levels in recent months.
But anxieties also extend to lower-skilled legal migrants, and even highly skilled workers, who are blamed for lighting a fire under housing and other costs during a period of high inflation.
Europe is expanding efforts, launched before the pandemic, to build hundreds of miles of new barriers on land and sea to stem an increase in illegal migration. Finland is building a 125-mile high-tech fence along its border with Russia, while Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in March the country would complete a 90-mile steel fence along its border with Turkey to prevent illegal crossings.
In Europe especially, “you definitely have a strong mismatch between the kind of people our labor markets need and the kind of people actually coming in,” said Roland Freudenstein, Brussels-based vice president of the independent think tank Globsec. --->LOTS MORE TO THIS STORY HERE
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