Ours is an era marked by extraordinary human migrations, with some 200 million people alive today having moved from their country of origin. The political reaction in Europe and the United States has been to raise the drawbridge: immigrant workers are needed, but no longer welcome. So migrants die in trucks or drown en route; they are murdered in smuggling operations or ruthlessly exploited in illegal businesses that make it impossible for the abused to seek police help. More than 15,000 people have died in the last twenty years trying to circumvent European entry restrictions.
In this beautifully written book, Jeremy Harding draws haunting portraits of the migrants – and anti-immigrant zealots – he encountered in his investigations in Europe and on the US–Mexico border. Harding's painstaking research and global perspective identify the common characteristics of immigration policy across the rich world and raise pressing questions about the future of national boundaries and universal values.
The delayed and despicable reactions of politicians from the foot-dragging David Cameron to the racist, "radical right" Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán to the current refugee crisis have resulted in a global upsurge of activism, with tens of thousands signed up to rally in central London and across Europe this Saturday as part of #EuropeSaysWelcome: European Day of Action for Refugees. The continent’s conscience has been moved as people all over the world upturn the racist, exclusionary narratives of politicians and the liberal and right-wing press with acts of compassion, generosity and everyday solidarity.
We have put together a reading list intended to better our understanding of the underlying causes of the crisis, including: racism, political inertia and capitalist war.
Update — Calais refugee library flooded with thousands of books: "Creator of Jungle Books urges people to donate money, not books, so refugees can cook – and read – in safety"—Guardian, 7th September 2015.
Verso London is sending books to Jungle Books (or Livres de la jungle in French), the makeshift library at the Calais migrant camp known as the Jungle. Mary Jones, who set up the library, wants to add more books in the native languages of the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and hopes that eventually, the camp inhabitants will run the library. Besides stocking around 200 books, the Guardian reports, “the library supports a school that offers classes to the refugees and asylum seekers that live in the camp.”
'The more the state is disarmed, the more it has to show off its voluntarism'. The illegitimate and illegal French blockade at the Italian border reveals the anxiety of a Europe that has surrendered its sovereignty to finance capital, writes Christian Salmon, 20 June. Translated from the French by David Broder.
Migrants use their survival coverings to shelter from the rain on the French-Italian border