Richard Holbrooke: These so-called ‘undocumented migrants’ have a

By contrast to the trickle-down economic policies of the past, as an “undocumented migrant” working as a waiter in Paris, I’ve seen firsthand how French citizen service employees, especially the young, face enormous difficulties and rising unemployment.

On my past journeys to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Libya, Greece and Italy, I was able to meet many “illegal” migrants. I stayed with several families of Nigerian and Ghanaian origin, most of whom came to France as children and, along with their parents, went to work as well as to seek educational opportunities. But like many of the younger members of those families, I also met these men and women as poverty-stricken refugees: children affected by the civil wars in their homelands that have killed and displaced many thousands of people, including many young people, in Europe and Africa.

I observed children and adults who had lived nearly unbearable experiences and faced incredible danger crossing continents and oceans to seek safety in Greece and Italy—so many were the victims of sexual abuse, theft, and assault on boats that are meant to serve for humanitarian purposes. It’s hard for me to imagine what it would be like to share similar experiences with fellow Americans.

But as migrants come and go to work from place to place across Europe, something is at stake: Europe is becoming increasingly isolated. The Central European states—Slovenia, Slovakia, and Hungary—face pressures to increase borders and protect against a mass influx of migrants. Many Ukrainians who left their homeland during the Ukraine civil war, and Germany, are coming to work in those central European countries or in Germany. The migrants who came to Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have returned home to find a fractured economy and rising unemployment. The eurozone countries and those of the former European Community are paying a high price: any relief that they can find is restricted by a scandalous, skewed redistribution of wealth that divides wealth away from many of the citizens in these countries to more affluent Germans and other nations.

In contrast to the trickle-down economic policies of the past, as an “undocumented migrant” working as a waiter in Paris, I’ve seen firsthand how French citizen service employees, especially the young, face enormous difficulties and rising unemployment. This “brain drain” is contributing to Britain’s decline and the emergence of an ever more nationalistic political climate within Europe. And France’s slide to political extremes and a disengaged youth threatens to make the country irrelevant in the midst of the multi-polar world.

That world is rapidly changing. As President Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and President Xi Jinping announced that China would be a full-member of the newly formed Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum—as part of a plan by China to “win” the future of the world—Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, decided to ignore Prime Minister Theresa May’s chastisement of our president in favor of a cozy lunch meeting with President Trump.

French President Emmanuel Macron called Mr. Trump’s deal to keep the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change “irresponsible” and even stated that “America first” doesn’t mean France first. But because many migrant workers have been affected by the high costs of everyday living, Macron finds it very tempting to enter into an “open border” arrangement with the American president.

Governing European nations is like walking around in a washing machine: the more you poke around the more you’ll realize the shape it has taken. We as European people have to walk around in “a different set of shoes” to explore a world, which is in danger of becoming even more connected through the advent of highly disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Through both summits at Davos and the Paris Peace Prize Ceremony, I’ve watched people in those positions grapple with how they can fulfill their roles within a fragmented European family, while still positioning themselves so as to cast themselves as leaders in a global family. It’s a challenge that if not solved, will have fatal consequences for the lives of those who are heading to Europe and elsewhere to work, to study, and to earn a better living, while feeling a sense of belonging to the melting pot that is the world.

Richard Holbrooke is chairman and CEO of the US-

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