Not too long ago, the Swiss voted in a referendum to limit immigration and make it easier to expel foreign-born residents. The specifics of the vote matter less than the sentiment it reflects, in Switzerland and Europe generally, feelings exemplified in an otherwise insignificant incident in the small Swiss city of Nyon. There, shortly after the vote, an elderly woman, waiting on an orderly, typically Swiss line for a bus, stepped out of her place for no other reason than to berate an immigrant beggar. "We voted yes," she shouted, referring to the referendum, "Now go home!" As a new book on this subject reveals, such an outburst could have happened anywhere from Scandinavia to Sicily.
Though Europe's elite, for understandable reasons, would like to down play such intense anti-immigrant feelings, the truth is they make those in the United States look mild by comparison. German officials have gone on record saying that their country is "not an immigrant nation." Across the continent in Ireland, one official not too long ago flatly stated that additional immigrant flows would cause "one million and one" problems. Surveys in the United Kingdom indicate that three-quarters of the population want to send unemployed foreigners home forcibly, while similar polls on the continent suggest that negative feelings there are, if anything, more intense. Anti-immigrant political parties have gained ground in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and, of course, Switzerland, while Italy has passed laws to make it easier to expel foreign residents, including even other European Union (EU) citizens. France's Ministry of Identity and Immigration has proposed strict quotas and has gone so far as to insist on DNA testing for immigrant family unification claims.