51% Show #1298

May 30, 2014

Credit Minnesota Historical Society

The immigration problem – it's not just in the US.... This week on 51%, the international flood of immigrants, and what's left of the American Dream.

When we talk about illegal immigration, we in the US tend to forget that other countries also face that challenge. It's a crisis in Greece. Part of the backlash again a flood of immigrants from wartorn countries is the growing popularity of the Golden Dawn party. They're extreme-right – They call themselves nationalist and racist.  A third of their leaders are in jail, charged with murder, extortion and arson.

Despite that, Golden Dawn politicians are likely to be voted into the European Parliament amid high approval ratings.

Greece is overwhelmed with people from Iraq and Afghanistan entering the country from Turkey. And despite EU funding to help control the surge of illegal immigrants, the numbers are swelling. Sarah Elzas visited Samos, one of the hundreds of small Greek islands in the eastern Aegean. Its sleepy capital of 12-thousand people only saw foreigners coming off cruise ships and tourist ferries. Now dozens of illegal immigrants are arrested there every day.

Coming up, Sweden looks for a humanist answer to the immigration problem. 

When it comes to embracing refugees, Sweden is known to be among the friendliest countries in the European Union. Even more so after the Swedish Migration Board announced in September 2013 that every Syrian who goes straight to Sweden can get a permanent residence permit. Over 20,000 Syrians have applied for refugee status in Sweden in 2013, and the vast majority of them are expected to receive asylum.

The problem is getting all the way to Sweden. Thousands have died trying to sneak into the EU, and their situation made headlines in October, when a boat full of migrants sank and 366 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, outside Italy.

Now, for the first time in decades, several Swedish politicians are publicly demanding that refugees be given legal and safe avenues to seek asylum in Sweden and other EU countries. Christopher Holmback and Julia Lundberg have more.

Credit The New York Public Library

America was once known as the land where the streets were paved with gold. That promise, a chance to succeed, lured millions of refugees and those new Americans helped define this country. They were all hoping to achieve the American Dream. All that was needed was hard work.

Times have changed. 

But new research shows that opportunity in America hasn’t changed much in a long, long time. State of Opportunity’s Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Public Radio looks at what that research might tell us about creating more economic opportunity. 

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme music is Glow in the Dark by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.