While the Nationalist Party’s condemnation of racism following the alleged killing of a Malian immigrant is commendable, the government should also shoulder at least part of the responsibility for the escalation of the problem.

For the last 10 years, the PN has treated immigration from Africa as a temporary phenomenon. Those not eligible for protection will be sent back, those who are not will be resettled in other countries – burden sharing. While that would be ideal, things are not that simple. The number of migrants that can be resettled in other European countries is limited while deporting those not eligible for protection may take time. Some of the countries of origin are not that easy to deal with.

Thus, so that the truth that some migrants are here to stay does not come out, the PN has not only completely ignored integration policy but didn’t even talk about the issue.

Anomalies in the law were completely ignored. One of these is the fact that those refused protection are given a “permit to work” but not a “work permit”. In other words, it is up to the employer to apply for the work permit, which he can flush down the toilet as soon as he’s fed up of the immigrant.

Alternattiva Demokratika’s suggestions that temporary work permits should be granted to refused asylum seekers, work permits that expire when the time of deportation has come and not when the employer doesn’t need the immigrant anymore, remained unheeded.

Such a policy not only harms immigrants but also directly contributes to foment racism. Exploiting immigrants and employing them illegally creates unfair competition on Maltese workers and allows more room for tax evasion.

Unfortunately, the Labour Party remains silence, at best, and makes self-contradicting populist statements at worst on the issue.

If both large political parties seriously want to curb the problem of racism, they should first take a look at themselves and, above all, start being honest with the Maltese people.

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