Why refugees in Europe don't want to be fingerprinted

Answer written originally to a question in Quora

Why don’t refugees want to be fingerprinted?

I understand this question refers to refugees or asylum petitioners in Europe. This does not need to apply elsewhere.

The reason is the Dublin Protocol, which states the European Country responsible for asylum application of a specific refugee or migrant. Basically, the country where they have first been fingerprinted. Any refugee or irregular migrant identified and fingerprinted in UK, Germany, Norway… who had been already fingerprinted in Greece, Spain or Italy will be sent back to that country of first identification.

Remember that most immigration routes come into Europe through the southern countries, which are also poorer countries than the northern ones, before the current recession and moreso now. Think Greece, Spain, Italy, and also the eastern part of the Schengen Area. In order to travel to the richer countries to try and become a refugee there and have a chance of finding a job, better welfare system, or to join their families or friends, migrants and asylum seekers go through many survival strategies, which can include having their fingers burnt to avoid fingerprinting.

“Under EU law, asylum seekers have to remain in the first European country they enter. This is known as the "Dublin" regulation after the 1990 summit at which the original system was adopted (coming into force seven years later).

For many European countries including the UK, Dublin is a key tool in a regime of tough border controls, allowing refugees to be deported back to Europe's southern border countries where they first entered the EU. Countries such as Italy and Greece, with minimal welfare provision for refugees, receive the most Dublin returns each year because so many of the asylum seekers who land there do not wish to stay.”

“The Dublin regulation was introduced partly to avoid "asylum shopping", wherein people like David and Awet might be drawn to better welfare systems in countries such as the UK and Norway. Critics of the Italian system say welfare is crucial to help integrate refugees, and the lack of welfare in Italy is an urgent problem.”

Europe boasts a freedom to cross borders, but this comes with the cost of tighter border control around Schengen and an externalization of borders and migrant control. There was quite an outcry when the EU suddenly decided Turkey was a safe country to return asylum seekers to, forcing them through a new process of petitions and/or irregular forced displacement. People fleeing wars are being treated so badly in Europe, against international conventions of Human Rights, that there is a high number who suffer from trauma and commit suicide. But there has been a long story of border externalization throughout Africa, linking European development funds for African countries to controlling the migration routes or creating detention centers in Africa with European money.

These agreements are the reason why migration routes keep changing, and when the less dangerous ones are highly militarized, riskier routes will be taken and more people will die in the Mediterranean sea or crossing the Sahara desert. Eritrea and Libya, among other countries, have been known to torture prisoners in immigrant detention centers which are part of this border externalization.

“Externalisation has been a founding strategy in European policies for a decade now, but only in recent times have we witnessed such an acceleration in these agreements and their consequences, thanks to the deployment “development funds” in the criminalization of migration. This is especially true in Africa, starting with the Khartoum process and the Valletta Summit.”

“[…]there is massive interference in the African continent, with Europe asking to implement control systems in countries that should allow free circulation within the ECOWAS space. On the other hand, negotiations are being conducted with African countries at the expense of hundreds of thousands of people.”

And, as we should all remember, Europe owes quite a lot to the people who are currently fleeing war, famine or political dissent. The wealth of the west was built on Africa's (and the original natives of America’s) exploitation


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