The Problem With Immigration

“Is there any other business?” said DuPont, looking around at his cabinet. “Only Martha has hurt her back and the goats need milking.”

“I’m sorry, Prime Minister, but I do have just one more item. It is quite important,” said Mendez, Minister of the Interior.

“It’s always important,” sighed Cortez, Foreign Minister. “My round then, I suppose.” He turned and waved at the barman. “Jacques, four more glasses of wine. This had better be only a one glass item of business. Henri isn’t the only one with chores to complete.”

DuPont rapped the cafe table. “Hey, hey. This is an official cabinet meeting. Kindly address me as ‘Prime Minister’ or ‘Mister DuPont’.”

“I apologise, Prime Minister. I get forgetful when I’m tired, and I haven’t had my siesta this afternoon.”

“Well, I could stand another glass of wine, if it’s important business,” said Francesco, Minister for Health. “If only to toast Martha’s health. I do hope she’ll get better soon.”

“Thank you,” said the Prime Minister. “So, the chair recognises the Minister of the Interior.”

“Thank you, Prime Minister. I shall try and restrict my verbosity to one glass-worth.” Mendez looked pointedly at Cortez.

“You’ll have to be quick, then,” said Francesco, chuckling. “I don’t like to see wine just sitting in a glass.”

“Gentlemen, I wish to direct your attention to our borders,” said Mendez. “I fear they are leaking worse than the town’s water tower.”

“Leaking?” said Francesco, frowning. “How can the mountain leak? Make sense.”

“Not in a literal sense. I mean figuratively. They are porous. There are restrictions on neither ingress nor egress. They are unchallenged.”

“They’re closed for most of January, longer if the winter’s bad,” said the Prime Minister.

“Nature withstanding. What I meant, Prime Minister, is that foreigners may come and go as they choose.” Mendez pronounced ‘foreigners’ as though it were the worst evil imaginable.

“A point of order, Prime Minister,” said Cortez. “I am still the Foreign Minister, am I not? If this is a matter of foreign relations, it is in my remit, not my honourable friend’s.”

“Foreign relations?” said Francesco, hardly able to contain his giggling. “What, with that French widow in the next valley?”

“Yes, very funny, Francesco. And it gets funnier every time you say it. But my objection stands.”

“I have no wish whatsoever to trample on your remit, Mister Cortez,” said Mendez. Francesco looked as though he would make another joke, but thought better of it. “My concerns are to do with the interior. We need to restrict the influx of foreigners into our principality.”

“Why?” said DuPont.

“Do you know the farm above Crooked Creek? Just below the top meadow?”

“Yes.”

“I was there the other day, just passing by. Do you know what I found there? A Spaniard.”

“A Spaniard?” Cortez shook his head in wonder. “You’re wasting our time here because you saw a Spaniard on the top meadow?”

“Ah, but you haven’t heard the worst of it. He’s bought the farm. All of it, the building, the meadow, the cows, all of it. Says he’s going to live there, be a farmer as if he had every right to do so.”

“Is he going to produce cheese?” said Francesco.

“What? How would I know? What difference does it make?”

“Well, since Amelia retired, there’s been no-one making a good soft cheese anymore, and I did so like some on Sundays. It went a treat with a big chunk of bread.”

“No, no, you’re missing the point,” said Mendez. “The point is, he just up and strode into our country, bought a farm and intends to live here as a citizen.”

“And?” said Cortez. “Do you have something against the Spanish? Are you prejudiced?”

“Prejudiced? How dare you! You know full well my third cousin married a Spaniard. I was at her wedding. I gave her my blessing.”

“To be fair,” said Cortez, “he was only half Spanish.”

“Look, no, you’re missing the point. All of you. My point is, my point is – .” He paused as he tried to work out what his point was. “The point is, any foreigner, be he Spanish, French or Azerbaijani, can just stroll into our country and claim it as his own.”

“I’m terribly sorry, Mendez, old chap, but I can’t see what’s wrong with that.” DuPont shrugged. “Okay, so our neighbours are a little odd in their ways, but you have to expect that. They are foreigners after all. And you can understand them wanting to live here. Ours is a most wonderful principality.”

“Ah, ah, there.” Mendez stabbed the air with a finger. “That’s exactly my point. This is a God-blessed principality. We have the purest air, the noblest people, the proudest history, and yes, even the creamiest cheese. Who wouldn’t want to live here?”

“Precisely,” said Cortez. “So you can’t blame the Spaniard for wanting to live here.”

“But what of his brothers? His sisters? His aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews? What if he tells them how wonderful it is here?”

“How many has he got?” asked DuPont.

“What? I don’t know. That’s not the point. The point is, if one can settle here, then two can. Ten can. A hundred can. And let me ask you – and give me a fair and honest opinion – if you had the means, which country would you choose to live in?”

“I’ve always fancied the South of France,” said Francesco. “A good bottle of wine, watching the sunset over the Mediterranean, the Mistral gently cooling my face.”

“America,” said Cortez. “The gangsters, the Red Indians, the movie stars.”

“Australia,” said DuPont. “What? Have you seen Kylie Minogue?”

Mendez sat back, amazement on his face. “What? You’d all rather live there than here?”

“Oh, you never said we could choose here,” said Cortez.

“I thought you meant, where would we live if we couldn’t live here,” said Francesco.

“Exactly,” said DuPont. “This would be our first choice, naturally.”

“Naturally,” agreed Mendez. “I ask you, gentlemen, who in their right mind would not choose to live here given the opportunity?”

“And I think that’s in no small part down to this government, gentlemen,” said the Prime Minister. “You should all feel proud.”

“Do you know how big we are, gentlemen?” said Mendez. “We are eight thousand souls.”

“Eight thousand and one, counting the Spaniard,” said Francesco, grinning.

“Yes, eight thousand and one, counting the Spaniard. We are the smallest principality in Europe, yet we are indisputably the best, most attractive country in the world. Who wouldn’t want to live here? Do you know how big they are, gentlemen? Seven billion. Seven billion souls. What would happen if word got out? What would happen when they all realise our borders are open and unrestricted. Why, if only one percent realised, that would be seventy million. Do you think we could cope with seventy million foreigners?”

“We’d need a hospital for a start,” said Francesco. “Maybe even a full-time ambulance.”

“We’d need roads and sewers and schools and, and, and so much more. Where would we even house them? Do you see my point now, gentlemen? Do you see the importance of this? We are surrounded by a potential avalanche of foreigners, and we’ve no limits in place to stop them.”

“Mister Mendez, you’re right. It is important. It had never occurred to me, but now you’ve pointed it out, it’s obvious. We must do something about it. What do you propose we should do?”

“Well, we are blessed with the ring of mountains God saw fit to surround us with. I don’t think we need worry about people flooding over the peaks.”

“If someone made it over the peak, he deserves to stay here,” said Francesco.

“Quite. So we need only really worry about the road into France and the road into Spain. What I suggest, gentlemen, is a little controversial, but sometimes we must make hard decisions in defence of our homeland. I propose we erect signs at both passes saying, ‘Permanent residency for citizens only’.”

“Oh, that sounds a little harsh,” said Francesco.

“I know, but what else can we do? Desperate times make for desperate measures.”

“I think we should add, ‘but you are welcome to stay for a visit’,” said Cortez. “You know, for the tourist trade.”

“Do we have many tourists?” said Mendez.

“Not as such, but we wouldn’t want to put them off if they did come.”

“A fair point,” said DuPont. “Are we all agreed then, gentlemen? Wonderful. Mister Mendez, please arrange for the signs to be erected, with Mister Cortez’s addendum. Any more business? No? Fine, then gentlemen, if you’ll excuse me, the goats won’t milk themselves.”

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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