Update: A reader from Malta comments, here.
Longtime readers know that we have followed the so-called refugee situation in Malta for several years. The tiny island nation in the Mediterranean is, unfortunately for them, a landing place for illegal aliens (are they truly asylum seekers or economic migrants?) coming in boats from North Africa often from that terrorism hellhole known as Libya.
On Saturday I see the Los Angeles Times has a report on the situation that begins with your usual sympathetic character—a Somali chemistry teacher (or so he says, LOL! wonder what sort of chemistry he was teaching) who is now stuck in limbo in Malta.
The LA Times:
As a member of the European Union, Malta is obligated to grant asylum to individuals who qualify, but the country maintains one of the strictest detention policies in Europe. Migrants who enter illegally can be held up to 18 months while their cases are processed; the Somali teacher’s story is not uncommon.
Most asylum seekers who end up in Malta on boats from Libya are trying to go farther north to Italy, where they believe there are job opportunities and where some hope to be granted asylum. Many are hoping to avoid detention and slip over the border toward northern Europe.
“Nobody was planning on coming to Malta,” the teacher said. “We all bought new clothes for when we landed in Italy so we could just go and disappear.” [just disappear!—telling comment]
An increase in illegal immigration [note even the Times knows they are illegal aliens—ed] has led countries such as Malta and Italy to boost coordination with Libya in search and rescue operations as well as with the signing of several agreements to crack down on smuggling networks.
What is the Los Angeles Times missing?
The Times is not reporting a critical element of the story—maybe reporter Meris Lutz doesn’t know about it. A couple of years ago a Bush Administration Ambassador to Malta set a new precedent. In 2008 some illegal aliens arriving in Malta were transformed into refugees and sent to resettle in a town near you. Legitimate asylum seekers are to seek asylum in the first safe country in which they arrive. Ambassador Molly Bordonaro helped to subtly change that long standing policy (apparently with much internal angst in the State Department). See this early post on the issue in which Molly (and the US State Department) sent Somalis off to Colorado with a tea party (a real tea party, not the new kind of Tea Party) send-off. The tea party-feted Somali was quoted as saying he was happy to be going to Colorado because lots of “black people” lived there.
Many feared, and rightly so, that the new policy would attract African illegal aliens to Malta not as a stop-over to Europe, but as a possible opportunity to win the lottery, so to speak, and get to the US. See my post which confirms that here.
The Obama Administration Ambassador to Malta has continued the same policy. Douglas Kmiec, one of those despised ‘Republicans for Obama’ in the last presidential election has continued that policy, here. Incidentally, Kmiec was the driver of a car in California that went off the road resulting in the death of a nun and the serious injury of a priest who were riding in Kmiec’s car. I don’t know if Kmiec is back in Malta yet after that August accident.
Note the LA Times does mention the Jesuit Refugee Service office in Malta which I believe has played a key role in helping create the new policy of transforming illegal aliens into refugees bound for the US.
For everything you want to know about Malta and refugees, use our search function for ‘Malta.’