Five months ago, in my first article for ILAPI I wrote about the phenomenon called “the though border paradox”. In practice, when governments are doing more to prevent people from migrating by building fences and walls, more people will try to migrate and cross borders. This has been the case between the USA, Mexico and South America since the 2000s, and similar developments are taking place between Europe, Africa and Asia.
Basically, more guards and obstacles are equal to more desperate attempts for humans to move from point A to point B. When the USA and Mexico had “open borders” in the past, most people from Mexico would migrate to the USA temporarily and return after working there for a certain period.
Today, many “illegal” South Americans, due to such inhumane policies, are trying to stay in the USA as long as possible because people know that if they get arrested, they will probably not have a second chance to immigrate again.
In Europe, the situation is that more and more “mainstream” politicians, as in centre-right and centre-left parties, have due to opportunist and short-sighted reasons, adopted the language of nationalist and far-right populist parties such as by demanding “strong borders”.
However, the fact is that strong borders in practice are also insecure, unsafe and inhuman borders. Partly because the fixation on national security is often about ignoring global security, including violating human security through arbitrary and repressive government actions.
Despite that the EU has constitutionalism based on and highlighting the importance of human rights and dignity, several EU member states have been conducting migration policies far away from respect for human rights and even for the rule of law. The latest examples can be seen in how Denmark and Greece have been acting.
In Denmark, a centre-left government has recently made a new immigration law presented as “fair and realistic” where the vision is “zero asylum seekers” coming to Denmark. The law is based on that Denmark will sign agreements with African countries as Rwanda who will take asylum-seekers and place them in Africa.
While Greece has during the 2000s and last decade been more famous for generous and humanitarian policies around refugees and asylum-seekers, things have changed radically since a centre-right party won the latest elections.
The new government is now conducting policies and actions that include illegal pushbacks and turning blind eyes to racist and xenophobic behaviours.
Greece is also spending money on using sophisticated equipment and building fences in order to prevent individuals from migrating from Turkey, justified with references to how Turkey’s regime is using Syrian refugees as a weapon.
What can be said regarding Europe is that mainstream politicians and governments are now conducting actions that only ten to twenty years before were developed by far-right parties.
However, the current development is also influenced by legal realities and inefficient actions. For example, the new Danish law could be changed or even abolished if it is found to be in contradiction with EU legislation regarding immigration.
While in the case of Greece, the general public could sooner or later realise that “though borderism” does not work as more people are dying in the Mediterranean Sea. Also, despite how different national governments are behaving, there are many cases of cities as Berlin and Barcelona taking refugees through local initiatives.
The current political struggle in Europe is very much about two visions. On one side, an open, humanitarian and Cosmopolitan Europe that stands up to its values, ideals, global governance and complex long-term solutions.
On another side, a closed, brutal Fortress Europe based on opportunism and primitive, inefficient actions also will hurt Europeans socially and economically towards the 2030s.
Therefore, politicians and others in both Europe and Africa have to understand that strong borders are unsafe and brutal for humans. In the 21st century people should be able to migrate safely and freely on the basis of law, freedom and rights.
Vladan Lausevic is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Inter-Regional Integration of the Institute for Liberty & Policy Innovation (ILAPI)
Photo Credit: Rest of World
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