French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has claimed that all migrants fleeing war or persecution can come to Europe, potentially triggering another huge wave of people attempting to settle across the continent.
The claim, which would open Europe up to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people able to claim “legitimate” refugee or asylum status, comes as most European countries struggle to cope with processing the hundreds of thousands already entering Europe.
“Each asylum demand must be examined rapidly,” Valls told his fellow Socialist Party members at a rally yesterday.
Those “fleeing war, persecution, torture, oppression, must be welcomed,” he said.
Just taking into account the top 15 countries, ranked by the number of deaths caused by war in 2014, means over 837 million people would qualify for legitimate immigration into Europe, according to Valls. The population numbers of countries currently at war is obviously far higher than this.
According to AFP, Valls quoted the Statue of Liberty, the “gift” given to the United States by France, which reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
But the statue, much like Europe, was never meant to be pro-mass migration. In fact, the words above weren’t added to the statue until 1903, after if became a source of inspiration for migrants.
“Our task is to find lasting responses founded on the values of humanity, responsibility and firmness,” continued Valls.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on the radio: “When I see a certain number of European countries, particularly in the east, who do not accept quotas (of migrants), I find it scandalous.”
Britain is one of the countries not constricted by Europe’s common asylum and immigration rules, and does not have a Schengen free movement deal with the continent either. However, any migrants offered European passports, as all will be eligible for, will be able to use that passport to both enter and settle in the United Kingdom.
AFP contributed to this report