Posted by Curt on 27 August, 2015 at 9:49 am. 2 comments already!


Glenn Reynolds:

From following the news, you’d think that immigration was strictly a U.S. problem, one brought to the fore by Donald Trump. But although Trump has certainly moved the debate to a new level here at home, other parts of the world are facing an immigration crisis that is, if anything, worse. And there are lessons in that.

The European Union, for example, is now beset with a flood of “migrants,” mostly from Africa and the Middle East. Some of them are fleeing war and civil strife; others are heading for a place with more economic opportunity or, at least, with welfare benefits that dwarf what they could earn at home through hard work.

Most of Europe operates under what’s called the Schengen Agreement, which abolished border controls among 26 European nations. Once within the Schengen Area, “any person, irrespective of nationality, may cross the internal borders without being subjected to border checks.”

This worked tolerably well for a while, but now, with hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of migrants in Europe or on the way, some European nations are beginning to have second thoughts. These have redoubled in the wake of last weeks attempted terrorist attack on a Paris to Amsterdam train, staged by a supposed Moroccan migrant. Although the European Union has so far ruled out any change to the Schengen agreement, officials from France, Germany and Belgium are talking about changes. The problem is that, right now, once migrants get into the EU, they can easily travel to where benefits are the highest, overwhelming locals. Germany, the most popular destination, is straining to accommodate all the arrivals. It’s reached the point that a German mayor, Boris Palmer, is talking about seizing private homes to accommodate migrants, a measure that is about as popular among citizens as you might expect.

One nation that isn’t part of the Schengen Agreement is Britain; to get from the rest of Europe into Britain you still have to show a passport and (depending on your home country) a visa. This policy, combined with Britain’s better economy, has led to refugees piling up across the Channel in France.  Refugee camps (The New Republic refers to a migrant “jungle”) have bloomed in Calais, where the Channel Tunnel connects to Britain, and migrants have rioted, broken into trucks, and stowed away on trains in an effort to get to the English promised land.

This has led the British foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, to suggest that they need to be sent home. With the gap in living standards between Europe and Africa, Hammond said, the motivation to migrate would otherwise be insuperable. (Histories of the 19th-century colonial era talk about “Europe’s scramble for Africa.” That has led wags, such as Ross Douthat, to talk about today in terms of “Africa’s scramble for Europe.” In both cases, the motivation is money.)

Meanwhile, as Americans talk of a border fence, Bulgaria is building one, with razor wire and steel 12 feet high. And Slovakia is flat-out refusing to accept Muslim migrants, viewing them as dangerous and destabilizing. Migrants have massed at the Macedonian border and are creating tensions between Serbia and Hungary. Hungary is building a fence too. Norwegian politicians are suggesting that Norway should do something similar to Australia, which is sending unwelcome refugees to New Guinea or to prison.

As the numbers of migrants climb, and countries become weary of accommodating them, expect these tensions to grow.

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