Loose immigration policies have generated a wave of frustration throughout the European Union. Governments with no plan or willingness to respond have suffered electoral defeat. Growing concern over unchecked illegal immigration will doubtless affect the 2024 U.S. elections, too.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government collapsed in July because his coalition partners could not reach an agreement on curbing immigration. In the subsequent election, Geert Wilders’ conservative Party for Freedom won an upset plurality.
Due to politically unacceptable levels of migration, other EU members have suspended the Schengen Treaty, imposing intra-EU border restrictions. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni reintroduced controls at Italy’s border with Slovenia in late October, saying increased illegal migration from the Middle East through the Balkans made it necessary.
Ten other Schengen Area states—Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden—have resumed border controls in recent months. The European Commission has proposed reintroducing visa requirements for non-EU countries over fears that the 60 countries given visa-free access could be transit hubs for migrants to cross borders illegally.
In late December, the EU agreed to a Pact on Migration and Asylum, which would tighten and coordinate asylum policies. Politically, the agreement is meant to blunt the rise of conservative parties that have targeted lax immigration in their campaigns.
Polls indicate that the European Conservatives and Reformists and Identity and Democracy parties could lead a shift to the right in the 2024 EU Parliament elections.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz broke with the typical pro-immigration message of his Social Democratic Party to protect his right flank from increasingly powerful conservative parties. Mr. Scholz says Germany must start large-scale deportations of migrants who don’t have the right to be in the country. Currently, only 1 in 6 failed asylum-seekers in the EU is actually deported.
Germany was expected to get about 300,000 asylum applications in 2023, over a quarter of the EU’s total. Mr. Scholz’s change in tone follows his coalition’s poor performance in the Bavaria and Hesse state elections in October, where two conservative parties, Alternative for Germany and Free Voters, did well.
Governments across Europe are learning that immigration is an issue they ignore at their electoral peril. The Sweden Democrats won a plurality of seats in parliament, with many voters motivated by the failed integration of refugees. On the campaign trail, party leader Jimmie Akesson said that “many Swedes are immensely tired of immigration, of crime, of the electricity prices.”
Even former Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, a Social Democrat. admitted the country had failed to integrate immigrants over the past 20 years.
Finland’s nationalist Finns Party finished second in this year’s election and entered a governing coalition that agreed on an immigration package deemed a “paradigm shift” by party chief Riikka Purra.
In the United States, Republicans have been outraged ever since President Biden dismantled former President Donald Trump’s border policies and effectively opened the borders by releasing most illegal crossers and severely curtailing interior enforcement of immigration law. Even Democratic-led states and cities are frustrated with the administration’s inaction.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who previously committed to house and protect illegal migrants, now asks them to go somewhere else. New York City once declared itself a sanctuary city, but Mayor Eric Adams recently claimed that migrants would destroy it and is now offering illegal aliens one-way plane tickets out of town. Mr. Adams announced budget cuts to essential city services to pay for the illegal aliens housed by the city.
In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has asked the federal government to stop migrants from coming to his state over the winter while sending millions to help Chicago put them in hotels. Chicago’s City Council is planning a referendum on its sanctuary city status after almost 40 years, and Mayor Brandon Johnson blames the problem on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Republican presidential candidates all support strong measures to control the border, and CNN exit polls from the 2022 midterms show immigration is a winning issue for the GOP. A Fox News poll revealed that 71% of Americans found current border security too weak, and support for a border wall reached 57%, the highest percentage ever.
Both the pivots of EU governments and the red wave in New York highlight the ability of conservatives to win by focusing on issues that have a direct impact on constituents’ lives: crime, inflation and immigration.
In Europe and in the United States, the far left demands tolerance of endless economic immigration under the guise of asylum. In response, conservatives who put national interests and local people before this dangerous globalist ideology can reap further electoral rewards.
This piece originally appeared in The Washington Times