For purposes of this paper, the immigration and asylum policies of three major European nations will be discussed in order to show the contrast among them. Although the nations belong nominally to the European Union, they each pursued different asylum policies as their individual responses to the tide of illegal immigration. These responses are partly shaped by their prevailing circumstances in terms of politics, economics and cultures. In short, the European Union likes to project an image of unity but its members do not always see eye to eye on many issues of vital importance. Examples where dissension and disagreements abound are in foreign policy (with regards to wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war against terror and even in their responses to the unfolding turmoil in the Middle Eastern countries today), existing relationships with the United States in terms of economic policies (farm subsidies, trade blocs, the currency exchanges, policy towards China, etc.) and treaties concerning nuclear proliferation. An example of the fragmented European Union was their lack of a viable response during the Balkan Wars and the sad genocide committed in Bosnia (once part of Yugoslavia) prior to its eventual breakup. The three countries that merit special mention in this paper are Great Britain, Germany and France. Historically, these three countries had absorbed a large number of immigrants from other distressed nations in pursuance of humanitarian considerations and also at the behest of the United States of America. There had been successive waves of immigrants being accepted into Europe as a concession to this American request, an example of which was the Vietnamese boat people who fled their country when it was unified under communist rule. The United Nations also played a big part in asking these countries to accept people who fled due to persecution.
The European Union came into being back in 1957 in the Treaty of Rome. It was initially known as the European Community and consisted of just six countries (Roskin, 2011, p. 83). Its purpose was to unite the whole continent of Europe in an effort to avert future wars. The original