Europe’s leaders want to ship a a lot stronger message that they may not supply “refuge and support” to migrants if they need to curb the right-wing populism spreading throughout the Continent, Hillary Clinton warned in an interview revealed Thursday.
Mrs. Clinton stated that whereas the choice of some nations to welcome migrants was admirable, it had opened the door to political turmoil, the rise of the fitting and Britain’s determination to withdraw from the European Union.
“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Mrs. Clinton stated within the interview with The Guardian, which was carried out earlier than the United States midterm elections this month.
“I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ — because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic,” she stated.
The subject of migration has been a divisive one worldwide, and particularly so in Europe, within the wake of an inflow of refugees and migrants that, in 2015 alone, drew a million individuals to the continent.
In the United States, President Trump has mobilized his base of supporters by focusing on what he calls the perils of immigration. He spoke ceaselessly earlier than the midterm elections about a caravan of immigrants touring north towards the nation’s southern border. Democrats agreed on a technique of principally ignoring that subject, however the celebration is split on how finest to grapple with immigration normally.
Mrs. Clinton’s remarks to The Guardian drew criticism and a dose of shock from an array of students, immigration advocates and pundits on each the left and the fitting, a few of whom had been so perplexed by the feedback that they puzzled aloud whether or not Mrs. Clinton had maybe misspoken. Mrs. Clinton, many stated, has a lengthy historical past of supporting refugees — a observe file seemingly at odds along with her current remarks. Her immigration platform within the 2016 presidential election boasted that “we embrace immigrants, not denigrate them.”
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton didn’t instantly reply to an electronic mail searching for remark on Thursday night time.
“I was kind of shocked,” Eskinder Negash, the president and chief government of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, stated of Mrs. Clinton’s feedback. “If she’s simply saying you need to cut down on refugees coming to Europe to ask for asylum because they have a well-founded fear of persecution, just to appease some right-wing political leaders, it’s just not the right thing to do.”
Tanja Bueltmann, a historical past professor at Northumbria University in Britain who focuses on migration points, stated Mrs. Clinton’s perspective was “tragically misjudged.”
“Ultimately, immigration is not actually the problem that inflamed voters: Much more foundational issues, such as austerity, are the real reason,” Professor Bueltmann stated. “Immigrants and refugees are simply the scapegoats populists have chosen to use to drive forward their ideas.”
Mrs. Clinton’s feedback got here in opposition to a difficult backdrop in Europe. Far-right events have seized on the immigration subject and gained a foothold in parliaments and governments throughout the continent, whereas centrist leaders in a variety of nations have undertaken largely profitable efforts since 2016 to drastically decrease the variety of unauthorized immigrants now reaching their borders.
Anti-immigration candidates have risen to energy in Italy and Austria, and they have gained seats in countries like Germany. The open migration policies of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany since 2005, ended up causing turmoil within her government and contributed to major electoral setbacks. She recently announced that she would step down as the leader of her conservative party in December and not seek re-election in 2021.
To liberals in Europe, Mrs. Clinton’s advice may have seemed belated as the continent continues its conservative tilt; but it was right on time for the rising populists, who seized on her remarks as they seek to revive a fading and highly effective issue.
“Maybe Hillary has understood the lesson,” said Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, which has advocated an Italians First platform and a hard line against migrants entering their country.
Ms. Meloni, who recently hosted Stephen K. Bannon — President Trump’s former chief strategist — as a keynote speaker at her party’s annual conference in Rome, added that Mrs. Clinton appeared to acknowledge that opposition to migration was “not a problem of racism,” and that “if you don’t control migration it will affect mostly poor people, people living on the outskirts, working classes.
“The left didn’t understand that, or didn’t want to, and they paid for their distance from the people,” she said.
At the same time, centrist leaders have worked to make the continent less hospitable to unauthorized migrants; the number of new arrivals there has dropped to a fraction of what it was.
For instance, Ms. Merkel, the center-right German leader, and Frans Timmermanns, the center-left former Dutch foreign minister, led efforts to forge a counter-migration pact with Turkey in March 2016, promising the country billions of euros in aid for its help in stemming the migrant flow from Syria. Italy reached a similar deal with Libya. The deal was criticized by liberals, leftists and rights activists — but afterward, unauthorized migration to Europe plummeted by 90 percent.
“We must get the facts straight,” said Gerald Knaus, the architect of the controversial deal with Turkey. “Today in 2018, few irregular migrants reach the European Union.”
Mr. Knaus said that mimicking the approach of the far right only risked helping them. “Just getting tough without any strategy does the work of the far right,” he said.
Democrats in the United States have also struggled to come up with a collective stance on immigration to counter President Trump’s relentless focus on the issue.
Indeed, Mrs. Clinton’s assessment represented a stark reminder of the sort of politics she and President Bill Clinton were long identified with: pragmatic and canny in the view of moderates but, to progressives, nothing less than craven accommodation to the nationalism she purportedly wants to tame.
Conversely, Mr. Trump has not hesitated to fully leverage the politics of immigration and fear to his advantage. In the days leading up to the midterm elections, Mr. Trump and his aides countered a steady stream of negative headlines about the brutal killing of a dissident by the president’s close ally, Saudi Arabia, by shifting attention to the caravan of Central Americans traveling toward the United States.
The strategy reprised some of the themes that he used to great effect during the 2016 presidential election.
Mrs. Clinton was largely absent from the midterm campaigns, and figures on the American left swiftly seized on her comments to argue that she was badly out of step with the Democratic Party’s ascendant liberalism and should remain sidelined.
“Our job on the left,” Corey Robin, a progressive author wrote in a stinging Facebook post, “is to say: Goodbye to all that, we’re done being done.”
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