Refugees RL

“It’s time to face the truth. We cannot and will never be able to stop migration.”

So began an opinion piece titled “Europe’s Migrants Are Here to Stay” that ran in Politico Monday. It was written by Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Union’s commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship.

In the piece, Avramopoulos warned that global migration is “our new reality” and there’s nothing Europeans can do to stop it. He cautioned against continuing to take a short-term approach in dealing with migration challenges, declaring that when it comes to migration, “we’re in it for the long haul.”

“It is foolish to think that migration will disappear if one adopts harsh language,” the commissioner wrote. “It is naïve to think that our societies will remain homogenous and migration-free if one erects fences. It is unwise to think that migration will remain on the other side of the Mediterranean, if one only shows solidarity in financial terms.”

Avramopoulos blasted the “nationalism, populism and xenophobia” that he said have hindered the recent discourse on migration. He called for a more long-term approach involving policies that promote “integration and inclusion.”

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The commissioner did not call for “assimilation,” which would require migrants to adopt the ways of European culture and fully become members of European society, but rather “integration,” which places the onus on Europeans to incorporate migrants into European society as equals, even if the migrants hold values counter to those of Europeans.

Avramopoulos said the EU still needs to deliver on its promises to evacuate thousands of migrants from Libya and create a more ambitious Blue Card for highly skilled workers. He called for a better, smarter and more proactive approach to managing migration, but scolded, “However, we cannot achieve this if we don’t accept a change in attitude and a change in our narrative.”

He pointed out the EU granted asylum to 700,000 refugees in 2016. But rather than seeing them as temporary residents fleeing wars in their home countries, the commissioner appears to view them as permanent settlers.

He wrote: “They have found safety in Europe, but we also need to make sure they find a home. This is not only a moral imperative. It is also an economic and social imperative for our aging continent — and one of the biggest challenges for the near future.”

Avramopoulos concluded Europeans must be willing to accept migration, mobility and diversity as the “new norm” and craft their policies accordingly.

“The only way to make our asylum and migration policies future-proof is to collectively change our way of thinking first,” he stated.

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