Europe Fears an Immigration Surge From North Africa Unrest

Europe's leaders are voicing increasing concern that unrest in North Africa and the Middle East will cause a surge of illegal immigration to the continent. And with current European Union laws placing the onus of dealing with immigrants on the country where they land, the possibility of a surge has some more on edge than others.

Italy, for instance, says it shouldn't be left to "bear the brunt of the new arrivals just because it is so close to North Africa," according to this New York Times story about the country's present scramble to house people evacuated from Lampedusa, a tiny Mediterranean island "jammed with thousands of immigrants from North Africa."

Heather Conley, who directs the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington, says that while the fear of a widespread immigrant surge may be very real, it's being amplified considerably, as well as exploited by some European politicians.

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