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How Isolationist Politics Doom any Solution to Immigration Problems

Immigrants Arrive in Lampedusa on a boat. Via the German Marshall Fund Blog
Immigrants Arrive in Lampedusa on a boat. Via the German Marshall Fund Blog

The Council of the European Union’s (CEU) recommendation takes a stand for pan-European cooperation and more fairness for all member states. This certainly is a noble endeavour when it comes to serious crime. But similar commendations concerning illegal immigrants and refugees reveal problems that have plagued EU foreign policy for a long time now: The lack of going beyond borders to solve problems, especially rising immigration numbers. An analysis on the basis of the OxIMUN 2012 CEU recommendation.

Sharing information and other cooperative efforts by way of technological frameworks seems to be the cure-all for serious crime issues. This notion is particularly strong when it comes to illegal immigration. The following clause is only one of at least three emphasizing cooperation:

“Encourages increased information sharing between national policing and border control agencies and EUROSUR, particularly of border states;”

However, since the prerogative of the EUROSUR program is to collect data from all people entering and leaving the EU, the sheer mass of data that needs collecting (and sharing) sets it apart. No wonder that technical problems have occured in similar programs: The Schengen Information System was supposed to use biometrical data for a long time now, but this will not be implemented until 2013. Evil unto him who thinks of data protection problems.

Still, one cannot accuse the ministers of not having learned of their previous shortcomings. The effort of placing everything “under a strong data protection regime” could be more prominent and more concrete in the recommendation, but at least no faulty technology has been implemented so far. And these practicality reasons apart, there’s a much bigger issue present in the recommendation. A question of principle, if you will.

Enter the immigration problem. For the sake of the argument, let’s pretend that this is in fact a problem. While abandoning borders inside the EU has been a great success, the numbers of illegal immigrants from outside continue to soar, and more and more people die trying.

If you wondered why illegal immigrants get their own section in a recommendation on severe crime, you’re pretty close to the point already. How on earth are refugees hardened criminals? And make no mistake, no word is said about the human traffickers that put people on shabby boats for some quick cash. Apart from the spectacular shortcoming of not mentioning the refugees when it comes to victim protection – although to be fair, they get half a sentence that their human rights must be respected – this is the single most important indicator of why illegal immigration policy fails and will continue to do so.

Not everybody welcomes strict immigration policy. Photo by Takver via Flickr.
Not everybody welcomes strict immigration policy. Photo by Takver via Flickr.

This great tragedy happens for two main reasons. Firstly, EUROSUR still does not have enough of a mandate to rescue people in need on the mediterranean. Secondly, there are no political measures in place to reduce the overall number of refugees, especially from Northern Africa. It’s great that the member states strive for bigger justice when it comes to taking refugees in, but without a plan on how to cooperate with non-EU states, the immigration flow will never stop. These people need perspectives in their own countries and traffickers need to be brought to justice.

The reason why this hasn’t done already boils down to simple politics. Stricter border control will easily find broad support in the population. Helping other countries however, is branded as “paying for other countries”. It is the great perversion of immigration policy that people don’t realize that building perspectives in other countries actually keeps out the immigrants nobody likes to take care of.

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Marin Aeschbach

Marin is 24 years old and currently resides in Zürich. He considers himself a granddad of Model United Nations journalism after being an editor for the media bodies at MOSTIMUN, SOFIMUN, NAPOMUN, ROMUN, KULMUN and MUNUSAL. He mostly edits stuff here, but may occasionally chime in or give you an insight into his work.