Après la terre promise

LONDRES – Au plus fort des révoltes arabes du printemps dernier, beaucoup d'Européens ont été secoués par les visions de cauchemar d'un tsunami de migrants s'écrasant contre les rives du continent. La vague n'a jamais frappé, mais son spectre a nourri un populisme tenace envers les immigrés, qui a dissimulé une importante nouvelle tendance : l’immigration vers l'Europe – et vers les États-Unis – est en grande partie dans l'impasse. Dans de nombreux pays, il y a plus d'émigrants que d’immigrants, principalement en raison de la crise économique qui a vu les emplois se tarir à l'Ouest.

Cette inversion est l'un des faits les moins signalés de 2011 (et des deux années précédentes) et les chiffres sont étonnants. Regardez l'Espagne, qui est en passe de perdre plus d'un demi-million d'habitants d'ici 2020. Par contre, entre 2002 et 2008, la population de l'Espagne a augmenté de près de 700 000 habitants par an, en grande partie par l'immigration. Les tendances sont semblables ailleurs en Europe.

Alors que ce seul fait ne calmera pas les opposants à l'immigration, il donne aux pays une plus grande marge de manœuvre pour réparer et renforcer les systèmes, gravement mis à mal, d’accueil et d’intégration des nouveaux arrivants. Même si les pays occidentaux frappés de vieillissement rapide sont incapables d'attirer les immigrants dont ils ont besoin, ils laissent des millions de personnes qui sont déjà là, souffrir de la discrimination et de la violence. Les arrestations et les expulsions ont lieu dans des conditions parfois terribles. Pendant ce temps, la communauté internationale échoue collectivement à protéger les vastes populations de migrants vulnérables, comme les millions de personnes bloquées par les récents conflits en Afrique du Nord.

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