Moviment Patrijotti Malti is at the forefront of the anti-immigration movement, using talking points like population density and inaction by the EU to convince people that irregular immigration is the biggest issue in Malta.
Apart from organising counter-protests to the Black Lives Matter movement in Malta, the group has also put forward a parliamentary petition to stop Malta from accepting irregular immigrants.
The petition has garnered just over 30,000 signatures, and once it reaches 40,000 it will have to be discussed in Maltese parliament – but how much of the petition is based on facts, and how much of it is just blatant scaremongering?
1. “Malta’s high population density is a clear reason why our country absolutely cannot take in more illegal immigrants”
Yes, Malta has a high population density, and it is the highest in the European Union. However, population density statistics can be highly misleading. Finland, Sweden and Estonia have among the lowest population densities in the EU, but these countries have limited habitable land space.
If a country is largely made up of uninhabitable land, and all its population are shoved into a small but liveable area, it will still have a low population density.
Aside from this, it makes no sense to blame Malta’s high population density on illegal immigrants. A study from last year estimated that there are 10,000 undocumented migrants living in Malta. This is only 2% of the total Maltese population. On top of this, our ageing population means that we’re forecasted to experience a decrease in the yearly percentage change of Malta’s total population.
2. “Malta has taken in more illegal immigrants than it can handle”
From 2014-2017, or the height of the European migrant crisis, only 719 irregular migrants landed in Malta. The number of irregular immigrants that entered Malta between 2008 and 2019 was only 15,343, with some of these being relocated or even sent back to their home country.
3. “Malta taking in illegal immigrants will cause serious issues relating to health, security and accommodation”
Illegal immigrants pose little to no harm in these areas. They are immediately placed in a detention upon arrival and have to undergo a health assessment before they can move into an open centre.
If we’re talking about health capacity, illegal immigrants are not even supposed to be treated in our public hospitals. Illegal immigrants are generally the least likely to afford proper accommodation, and will resort to living in garages or abandoned hotels just to have a roof over their heads.
And no, illegal immigrants are not pushing up rent prices – a lack of regulation and public housing is what’s pushing up your rent prices.
The only security issue they pose is that they could resort to petty crime if they don’t have the material conditions needed to get by – but this is a whole other argument that you can read here.
4. “Illegal immigration has taken the form of organised crime”
Illegal immigrants are definitely victims of a wider organised network that makes billions of euros smuggling migrants across Africa and into Europe – but this isn’t an issue that will be resolved through pushbacks. The most Malta can do is offer diplomatic help to Libya.
5. “The EU is not doing anything”
The EU has quite a number of funds and mechanisms in place to handle irregular migration, but there are definitely areas of improvement.
For example, the Dublin Regulation has been heavily criticised for putting increased pressure on EU border countries, and even the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights agreed that the regulation undermines the rights of refugees.
European solidarity sounds great on paper, but the concerns of southern and external border countries always tend to be put on the back burner.