Despite the call from McGill University (Montreal) Law Professor Francois Crepeau, the UN's special rapporteur for human rights, for rich countries to take in one million refugees from Syria over the next five years in order to end the boat disasters in the Mediterranean, which have claimed more than 1,750 lives this year, and reduce the booming market for immigrant smugglers from North Africa, Europe appears to be moving in the opposite direction of taking a hard line against immigrants, according to two recent articles inThe Guardian.

On April 22, The Guardian reported that, according to Professor Crepeau, Europe's inaction in the face of the refugee crisis is actually creating the market for smugglers. The Guardian also stated:

"Crepeau said that the west had to acknowledge the refugees were 'stuck in a place where there's no future for themselves or their children' and had to change policy'

'This is going to be a long term commitment and we should go at it together. It's a much better system for everyone - you reduce the number of deaths, you reduce the smuggling business model, and you reduce the cost of asylum claims.'

The plan would allow Syrian refugees to apply from places such as Istanbul, Amman and Beirut to come to Europe, North America and Australia 'for a meaningful chance to resettle, instead of paying smugglers thousands of Euros [only to] die with their children in the Mediterranean.'"

Crepeau also stated that for the UK, Canada and Australia, under his plan, the number of refugees they would need to take in each year in order to accomplish the above goal would be "a drop in the bucket."

See:UN expert: rich counties must take in one million refugees to stop boat deaths

Unfortunately, it looks as if this sensible and humane proposal is falling upon deaf ears among European leaders. The Guardian also reports on April 22 that Europe is planning to accept only 5,000 of the 150,000 boat refugees who actually made it across the Mediterranean last year - with another 36,000 survivors estimated to have reached Italy, Greece and Malta so far this year. The rest, according to a confidential draft statement of European leaders, will be sent back.

See: Most migrants crossing Mediterranean will be sent back, EU leaders to agree

Exactly where will these desperate men, women and children be sent back to? To Assad, one of the world's most brutal dictators? To ISIS, which makes even Assad look humane by comparison? To Libya, which has no government at all except arguably for parts controlled by ISIS?

The Guardian quotes the EU statement as follows:

Our immediate priority is to prevent more people from dying at sea. We have therefore decided to strengthen our presence at sea, to fight the traffickers, to prevent illegal migration flows and to reinforce internal solidarity.

The Guardian
also reports:

"Increased support is also to be given to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger
to monitor and control their land border to prevent potential migrants getting to the shore of the Mediterranean." (Bold added.)

In other words, the emphasis is not to save lives or protect refugees from persecution, but to keep them out of Europe at all costs.

In contrast to the above inhumanity by EU leaders, The Guardian also reports that a letter to them signed by more that 50 former European prime ministers foreign minsters and business leaders:

"condemned the death toll of migrants in the Mediterranean as a 'stain on the conscience of our continent' and demanded the immediate restoration of expansive search and rescue operations.'"
​ (Bold added.)

The parallels between this inhumane attitude toward some of the most desperate people on earth, the millions of victims of war torn Syria, as well as of war, poverty and instability in North Africa, and the Obama administration's harsh approach to last summer's influx of unaccompanied children and other refugees from drug violence ridden Central America cannot be ignored.

It is time for the rich countries of the world to show more respect for the basic human rights of the millions of people displaced by war and poverty in less fortunate parts of the world, instead fof trying to seal their borders against them at all costs.

Even in the arena of legal employment-based immigration by well educated, highly skilled IT, business and other professional who arguably come from the elite and more privileged sectors of society in at least some countries, there are human rights and humanitarian concerns which deserve more attention than they are currently receiving.

While none of the approximately 175,000. or about 75 per cent of the beneficiaries of this year's cap subject H-1B petitions which will be rejected this year because of lack of visas are likely to drown at sea as a result, many of them will see their hopes for careers in America which they have studied and worked hard for sink to the bottom, and will be forced to return to their countries, or pursue their careers in some other country with a more hospitable and rational skilled immigration system.

I know personally about the intense anxiety and uncertainly that some of my own H-1B cap clients have gone through or are now experiencing due to the H-1B visa crisis, and I am sure that many other H-1B lawyers are hearing about similar concerns from their clients as well.

It is time that America stops looking at the most highly qualified would-be immigrants as mere statistics, or even worse, as threats, and starts to recognize them as individuals who also have human rights, as well as the overriding potential and motivation to contribute to our economy and our society.

It is not only Europe which needs to renounce narrow parochialism and xenophobia in its policies toward immigrants, including the most desperate who are endangered by wars which they did not start and are beyond their control. America also, needs to overcome the anti-immigrant stereotypes and prejudices which have bedeviled our society from the beginning and are now responsible for turning away many of the most qualified immigrants of all from our shores.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been helping skilled, professional and family-based immigrants overcome the obstacles of our complex immigration system for more than 30 years.

Roger believes that immigration is not merely a collection of technical laws and regulations, but is also meant to recognize the basic humanity and human rights of people from every part of the world who want to come to this country in order to make a positive contribution to our society.

Roger welcomes comments and questions addressed to