Have you ever been on holiday? To Thailand maybe? Or to Dubrovnik? Travel is a wonderful privilege we should all cherish. Yet travel for most of today’s travelers is not a story of picturesque holidays, but rather picturesque stories of forced migration. As we have brought down borders to any and all goodies and services, the main concern of our political elites these days is how the holy grail of “Free Trade” can be brought to people’s around the world. With this has come a concerted global effort to remove international borders for goods and services, and multiply those for people.
Honing-in on Europe, migration (non-)policy is the palm oil of political debates – its everywhere. Everything I have heard so far, in the media, in people’s fears, in politicians populism, is about control, control and control. I would like to propose a few ideas that go against this unanimous political consensus that: “We must control who comes in!”
First, inside Europe. We have Schengen, we have the EU, and we (in theory) have no borders. These achievements are not only about securing people’s movements, but securing a union between people and not only between political elites. Thus, are Europeans immigrants when they’re still at home, in Europe? I think not. I believe that the ultimate ideal of the EU’s internal migration policy should be to enable people, to live, work and prosper wherever they wish in Europe. Thus Europe becomes our home. Can you be a foreigner at home? We should secure the rights of any all citizen in Europe, everywhere in Europe, by introducing a common legal identity, European citizenship. An inclusive European citizenship would accompany all Europeans’ national citizenship, and it would secure their status as a citizen with full rights in any European country. Honestly, I don’t think this is ambitious enough. I believe we should confer this European citizenship to any and all who reside in the EU.
Second, fleeing to Europe. Europe has been blessed with more than a decade of peace now. Western Europe for more than half a century. Its needless to say that such a reality is a far-fetched dream for people the world over. Peace not only means the absence of violence, but for many its the absence of the threat of violence. Its the absence of fear. And we keep it jealously to ourselves. I won’t delve into the intricacies of Europe’s asylum policies, because there are none. Europe isn’t a place of peace where people can take refuge. Refugees come in by the trickle.
For the most part Europe (sometimes) throws money to maintain refugees – people scared for their lives, ready to sacrifice their lives for the safety of their families, ready to cross deserts and seas with nothing in the search for security, people with no home to return to – in internment camps. The logic of refugee camps is one of tacit violations of human rights as they contain refugees in close proximity to the conflict, in miserable living conditions, whilst they are sold off as being temporary safe-havens for people to run to whilst someone gets serious about solving the very conflict that made these people run away. Did you know: these camps are meant to be temporary? Yet Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran are seeing a whole new generation be born and raised in these camps. Temporary, but for how long? Europe – as a complicit agent in its continued provision of arms, equipment and troops to fuel these conflicts worldwide, but also as a moral agent for the promotion of peace and human rights – has an urgent, more active role to play in asylum policy. I want to see these temporary camps as the first door to an ambitious policy of refugee resettlement. Refugees arriving at the UNHCR camps should have the means and rights to apply for asylum in Europe. Coupled with a policy of open borders this will enable refugees to return home when they deem the conditions at home are conducive to their security.
Thirdly, coming to Europe. Countless data shows that migration benefits both the host and the home country. On a global scale, there is more people between countries of the global South than come to the Western world. Europe’s current regime of immigration controls sustains a two-tier society where the illegality people live in denies them of their fundamental human rights, and the fears against legal migration are bred by scare- mongering politicians hard-bent on reaping the national vote. Are we fearful of the fantasies we are fed by politicians? Are we greedy over our tax money? Have we forgotten the morals of universal human rights even in our very home? Europe should open its borders. The asylum policy delineated above is part of that. But also, a unified on-arrival visa system allowing people the right to live, work and prosper in Europe should be put in place. Border policy should be about management, not about inhumane control and warlike disregard for immigrants. Immigrants are people on the move for a better future, for them, for their families, for those around them. We are better off together, as equals. Lets break this exploitation of the illegal.
No one is illegal.