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Members of the European Union (EU) are feeling besieged by a rising tide of refugees fleeing conflict and migrants seeking economic opportunity. Many of the refugees, who are mainly from the Middle East and Africa, are crossing the Mediterranean on overloaded boats or traveling via treacherous land routes, often victimized by unscrupulous human traffickers. National leaders disagree on what to do, other than fortify Europe's borders. Refugee organizations say strengthened borders will just push migrants, who have been dying by the thousands, to try even more dangerous routes. An EU plan to send navies to destroy smugglers’ boats faces similar criticism. Some economists argue that Europe needs more migrants to bolster its aging workforce. However, polls show most Europeans want fewer immigrants amid worries about unemployment and terrorism. Violent conflicts far from Europe — primarily the Syrian civil war — are driving this year's surge. That leads some observers to argue that an international solution to the migration crisis is needed.
Authorities want to relocate 40,000 asylum-seekers and use military tactics to stop human smugglers.
Countries disagree on how to handle migrants and refugees at EU borders.
Nationalist parties have gained power.
|1830–1858||Immigrants from Europe's colonies provide new source of labor for the Continent.|
|1954-1980s||Europe encourages immigration to rebuild post-World War II economy until a recession hits in the 1970s.|
|1996–2000s||Terrorist attacks fuel European fears of migrants, especially those from Muslim countries.|
|2010-Present||Arab Spring uprisings lead to turmoil throughout the Middle East and a surge of refugees in Europe.|
Should Britain reduce the number of immigrants?
Author, The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-war Immigration; director, Demos Integration Hub, London.
Director, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, London.