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Hillary Clinton: Europe should stop offering refuge and support

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

Former presidential candidate and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Europe needs “to get a handle on migration”, blaming the rise of right wing populism on the liberal policies adopted in Europe.

Clinton said she admired the “generous and compassionate approaches” by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders, but that Europe had already “done its part” and should now send a clear message that they will not be able to provide refuge and support.

Her comments come as migration takes centre stage on global discussions, with many countries refusing to sign the UN Global Migration Compact, and the Central American migrant caravan approaching the US Border via Mexico.

The former secretary also said that migration is what “lit the flame” for the rise of nationalism and right wing populism.

Using immigration as a political pawn has been condemned by many, and the secretary’s comments are sure to stir up controversy in Europe, where migration has been deemed everything from a “crisis” to a catalyst of economic growth. It has also become a key factor in deciding Angela Merkel’s successor.

President Trump has also exploited migration as a political argument, not only by exaggerating but by using factually incorrect claims, like alleged “Middle Easteners” infiltrated among the Central Americans in the caravan. He also attempted to limit the possibility of asylum claims to certain official points in the border, in a move rejected by Congress. All of this was targeted rhetoric towards the midterm elections.

This is all additional to his preferred choice of words: “criminals” and “invaders”.

Clinton told the Guardian: “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”.

Responses to her statements have been mixed, with some officials agreeing that migration poses a threat to society in the form of rising conservativism and xenophobia, but others deem it fully misguided, saying that migration is rooted in very deep issues and that far-right politics is a completely different story.

Eskinder Negash, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, told the New York Times she was “shocked”: “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.”

“Ultimately, immigration is not actually the problem that inflamed voters: Much more foundational issues, such as austerity, are the real reason.”

said Tanja Bueltmann, a history professor at Northumbria University to the New York Times, adding that “immigrants and refugees are simply the scapegoats populists have chosen to use to drive forward their ideas.”

One thing that is clear about Clinton’s comments is that they ignore the actual causes for migration into Europe, like conflict or crippling poverty. Considering migration as nothing more than the right’s target of choice is trivialising a worldwide crisis, and saying Europe needs to stop offering refuge is fully succumbing to this rising populism, and it will do everything but disempower them.

Author: Ana Hernandez

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