The European Union has announce plans that will soon amend existing laws, and will make it illegal for people to rescue immigrants drowning at sea, if they do not have federal permission to do so. Citing the recent rise in organized crime and illegal immigration across the Mediterranean Sea, the Council of the European Union released a detailed document about how they intend to fight back against the problem.
Council of European Union Press Release: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2016/jan/eu-council-concl-migrant-smuggling-5481-rev-1-16.pdf
In essence, in order to protect the traditional cultural heritage of Europe, the European Union is planning to let refugees drown, and will imprison anyone who tries to save/help them. Many people are outraged about the new laws, calling them “hate speech in the name of patriotism and national security.” In many ways, people see this move as being no different from those enacted by Donald Trump and his counterparts overseas.
However, from the European Unions point of view, the single largest driving factor behind illegal immigration on the open seas, is organized crime. Though there is a large police presence to combat this, there are many charity/activist groups who actually volunteer their time and make themselves available for rescues. The government is arguing that these charities are acting as facilitators to illegal activity, and are thus contributing to the entire problem. If these people are arrested, then less people will try to help. As a result, the voyage will become more dangerous for refugees, decreasing illegal immigration. So the EU hopes/believes.
In the news, almost every week, we hear about refugees being rescued at sea, dead bodies washing up on shores, and dozens of immigrants drowning at sea. Making it illegal to save drowning people at sea, does nothing to address the core problem of illegal immigration—it is just cruel, inhumane and completely misguided. How can the government punish people for saving the lives of other human beings? The individuals who are dedicating their time to refugee rescue efforts, are not the problem here.