Wednesday 12 December 2018

Clinton: Cut immigration to stop rise of populists

Hillary Clinton. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Hillary Clinton. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Mythili Sampathkumar

Hillary Clinton has said Europe must tackle the issue of immigration to help stem the rise of right-wing populists across the continent.

The US Democrat former presidential candidate said it was the issue that "lit the flame" behind such figures.

Though she commended German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the country's efforts to take in Syrian refugees in particular, Ms Clinton urged Europe's leaders to show they are "not going to be able to continue [to] provide refuge and support" for refugees.

She said the continent must "send a very clear message because if we don't deal with the migration issue, it will continue to roil the body politic."

At least one million people seeking refuge from conflict have made their way to Europe since 2015, with a spate of politicians running on populist, anti-immigrant platforms in Italy, Greece, Austria, and the UK appearing since that time.

Numbers of refugees and migrants have been dropping, however, as the EU has revised its asylum policies and countries have used their coast guards and military to police sea channels.

Ms Clinton cautioned Europe's leaders to take into account issues of race and identity and blamed her stunning 2016 presidential bid loss on the fact she did not.

She also accused President Donald Trump of exploiting those issues for his gain in 2016 and now in office.

She said "the use of immigrants as a political device and as a symbol of government gone wrong, of attacks on one's heritage, one's identity, one's national unity has been very much exploited by the current administration here".

Mr Trump has repeatedly characterised a caravan of migrants moving towards the US-Mexico border as "criminals" and "gangs with unknown Middle Easterners" in their midst.

He said the military would use force against those attempting to enter the country illegally, despite US law requiring entry in order to apply for asylum.

Many of the estimated 7,000 migrants making their way from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador through Mexico are fleeing rampant gang violence in their countries and may apply for the protected status once they reach the US.

Ms Clinton also said Brexit was "largely about immigration" and noted the rise of right-wing populists has been occurring to meet "a psychological as much as political yearning to be told what to do and have their press basically stifled and so be given one version of reality".

"I don't know why at this moment that is so attractive to people, but it's a serious threat to our freedom and our democratic institutions. We've got to do a better job of shining a light on it and trying to combat it," she said.

Irish Independent

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