Nearly one billion of the world’s estimated 6.7 billion people are migrants. In 2009, many countries took more restrictive approaches to migration in light of the continuing recession. The Migration Policy Institute released a list this month that highlights some of the global trends that ensued due to economic downturn. A Human Rights Watch report released on International Migrants Day also explores some of the problematic issues faced by both documented and undocumented immigrants. Governments have the right to control their borders and numbers of immigrants but in a way that protects and safeguards human rights. Some actors and countries on the global stage went a bit too far with their xenophobia and nativism. They are now being honored in a ‘2009 Global Anti-Immigrant Hall of Shame.’
Congratulations are in order for:
10. French President Nicolas Sarkozy – The ultra conservative President of France might be extolled for his opposition to the war against Iraq but he is no friend of Muslims and non-White immigrants. Many European countries are grappling with what they call “Islamisation” and the Swiss recently banned minarets by referendum. France might follow suit. This year, Sarkozy went after the burqa (veil) worn by Muslim women in France. Then, he launched a national identity controversy in his quest to define French tradition at a time when “France faces burgeoning African, Arab, and Asian immigrants, and other changes in a globalizing world.” The website to define French identity is here, and critics have said that these identity questions pander to the French right wing, which Sarkozy needs to win re-election. France reserved its place on this list by deporting children of undocumented immigrants last month.
9. Nick Griffin and the British National Party – This White Nationalist MP has faced media scrutiny and public anger since his British National Party (BNP) won seats for the very first time this year. The British National Party opposes what Nick Griffin calls the ”creeping Islamification” of Britain, while Griffin has been convicted of inciting racial hate, denies that the Holocaust ever took place, proposed that the European Union should sink boats carrying undocumented immigrants, supports voluntary repatriation of immigrants and wants to take Britain out of the European Union and NATO. Did I mention that the BNP also barely ‘tolerates’ gays and Mr. Griffin believes that global warming is a hoax?
8. Bal Thackeray and the Shiv Sena (MNS) – Known for their anti-immigrant and anti-women stance, the Shiv Sena has been adamant for many years that ‘Mumbai is only for the ethnic Marathi community’ similar to saying that San Francisco should only admit, give jobs and dwellings to Whites. Bal Thackeray made the news last month when he objected to Sachin Tendulkar, a legendary cricket icon and possibly the best cricketer to ever play the game, calling himself an ‘Indian’ rather than a Marathi. The MNS men typically reinforce their nativist views with gangster tactics and last week, they beat up pilgrims sleeping outside a temple.
7. Sheriff Joe Arpaio – Most people in the United States are familiar with “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” who is also the target of more than 2700 lawsuits. Reigning over Maricopa County in Arizona, Arpaio has forced a pregnant woman to give birth while shackled, paraded immigrants in pink underwear and conducted racial profiling while ignoring real law enforcement priorities. An uproar from activists against his unapologetic and criminal methods led to a Department of Justice investigation earlier this year and Arpaio had his wings clipped when DHS removed his right to enforce immigration laws. Still, he continues to terrorize the immigrant community.
6. Egypt and the Egypt-Israel border – If there is anything worse than the United States-Mexico border, it has to be the Sinai border between Egypt and Israel. One of the most dangerous borders in the world for migrants, Egyptian border patrol has (illegally) shot and killed over 33 asylum seekers and refugees last year and at least 15 this year, wounding scores more.
I hope you enjoyed my various lists this year. Come back and find out the winners tomorrow and suggest your own!
(Photo Credit: JohnLeGear’s photostream Creative Commons Attribution)