Europe's Arizona; Financial Woes Exacerbated by EU's Worst Illegal-Immigrant Problem

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 27, 2010 | Go to article overview

Europe's Arizona; Financial Woes Exacerbated by EU's Worst Illegal-Immigrant Problem


Byline: Ray Hartwell, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The news out of Greece these days is not so good, but there's one part of the story you're not hearing. Of course, Greece has spent too much for too long. Measures to wean government and union workers off of unsustainable compensation and pension packages are not being well received. Riots and strikes are creating havoc and doing further damage to the Greek economy.

Amid extensive media coverage of the euro crisis, one big, fat Greek story is not getting much play here, and it's one that has lessons to teach us: Greece's myriad difficulties are exacerbated by an immense illegal-immigrant problem.

Greece is the Arizona of the European Union. Whether or not America is Greece when it comes to government spending, America and Greece are both dealing with the consequences of having - willfully or not - open borders. (Both countries, of course, have many legal immigrants who are productive citizens, and they are not the problem.)

Albanians have poured into Greece since the collapse of their communist regime, some paying traffickers for passage and some simply walking across the porous mountain frontier. Many Albanians seek to reach Italy and Western Europe, leaving Greece from the port of Patras. Many more remain in Greece. Similarly, many Mexicans - and others - enter Arizona across its unsecured border; some stay there, some move on to other states.

Today, there are estimated to be about 600,000 Albanians in Greece illegally. They are said to account for about two-thirds of the illegals in Greece. Thus, the total number must approach 1 million (although some estimates claim it's much higher). The population of Greece is about 11 million. So, in round numbers, nearly 10 percent of the people in Greece are there illegally. In Arizona, the number of illegals is estimated at almost 500,000, out of a total population of around 6 million. This is comparable, proportionally.

Unlike Arizona, Greece has another border problem - a second front. There is massive infiltration by illegals from Turkey across the land border and by sea to numerous Greek islands in the north and eastern Aegean. This is facilitated by an extensive trafficking industry. Turkey is the major launching point for Turks, Arabs, Africans and Asians seeking to enter Greece, and perhaps from there, elsewhere in Europe.

Neither Turkey nor Albania is very helpful when it comes to policing traffickers, much less to repatriation of their nationals. The tensions between Greece and Turkey over the issue are more serious, no doubt exacerbated by their other differences. Illegal immigration was a principal agenda item recently when Prime Ministers George Papandreou of Greece and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey met to discuss improved bilateral cooperation.

Some in Greece claim the Turks are turning a blind eye to the issue because this enables masses of desperate people to move into Greece, inflicting substantial losses on the Greek economy and altering the country's ethnic and social profile. …

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