A precedent established by caravans of migrants careening against the U.S. southern border portends boatloads of European lessons. Notwithstanding laudably well-meaning humanitarian responses to tragic plights of legitimate political asylum-seeking war refugees and economic immigrants, the public welfare, security and assimilation challenges they have created are profound.
The EU migrant control crisis began in 2015 as rising tides of desperate souls traveled across the Mediterranean Sea or overland through Southeast Europe. Most came from Muslim-majority regions south and east of Europe, including Western Asia, South Asia and Africa. The majority were Sunni Muslim, with a small component of non-Muslim minorities including Yazidis, Assyrians and Mandeans.
Of those in 2015, 58 percent were adult males over 18 years of age, 17 percent were adult females over 18 years of age, and 25 percent were minors under 18 years of age. Overall, about half of them were granted asylum protection.
In war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Darfur, men are at greatest risk of being forced to fight or be killed. Some search for a safer place to work before attempting to reunite later with their families. Others, likely a small percent, are hostile agents such as Islamic State militants disguised as hostility refugees or economic migrants.
Economic migrants fleeing lack of jobs typically come from the Western Balkans (Kosovo, Albania, and Serbia) and parts of West Africa (Gambia and Nigeria). Nigeria and Pakistan have a mix of economic migrants and refugees escaping violence and wars such as the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria and conflicts in northwest Pakistan.
Refugees from Eritrea on the Horn of Africa, one of the most repressive states in the world flee from indefinite military conscription and forced labor.
Most asylum-seekers clearly prefer prosperous northern European destinations that offer generous social welfare benefits. Four states (Germany, Hungary, Sweden and Austria) received around two-thirds of the EU’s total asylum applications in 2015. Kurds make up 80-90 percent of Turkish refugees in Germany.
What to do about screening and accommodating the 1.5 million people who have arrived by sea since 2015 alone presents emotionally sensitive political and economic issues. Strategies have included increased funding for border patrols, military initiatives to fight migrant smuggling, and a proposed quota system to relocate asylum seekers among E.U. states for processing of refugee claims.
Even Sweden, a country long been viewed as a welcoming harbor for immigrants, is confronting limits to its welfare state hospitality. Public backlash is causing its historically open door to finally swing back.
Many Swedish citizens have come to attribute open border policies with growth of out-of-control crime problems that challenge their country’s image and core values of charity and tolerance. Last year, for example, muggings and violence over drug trade between recently-arrived youth gangs of Moroccan, Afghani and Syrian origin made Gothenburg’s central shopping mall unsafe, particularly at night.
Last year border police reported that it was impossible to verify identities of 77 migrants from Morocco using fingerprint matches checked against the Moroccan fingerprint database. It was found that out of those 77, 65 had lied about their identity, and of 50 claiming to be underage, all but two were adults.
The Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine determined that 442 of 518 migrants they investigated who claimed to be 18 years old were likely adults. Of those probable adults, all but 12 were men.
During 2015, migration authorities reported 500 cases of suspected terrorism links or war criminals to the Swedish Security Service. Nevertheless, until 2017, the Swedish Migration Agency awarded temporary residence permits to people considered to be war criminals and security threats, qualifying them to claim welfare and healthcare benefits.
In late June, 2016, the Swedish parliament voted for more restrictive policies with a large majority vote. A leaked internal memo from the cabinet showed that spending cuts to all public services had become necessary due to the escalating costs of the migration crisis.
After 2015 when Sweden introduced identification checks on the Danish border to prevent undocumented migrants from entering, Denmark then also reintroduced border controls on 2016 on the Danish-German border.
Unlike Europe, undocumented migrants crossing into the Continental U.S. have unfettered access everywhere. Permeable border barriers in combination with catch and release, sanctuary city/state and non-vetted rubber stamp political asylum policies serve as de facto welcoming invitations.
Desperate, typically honest and industrious individuals and families cannot be blamed for seeking better lives in this wonderful country. Let’s also recognize that the vast majority of more the more than 700,000 annual new undocumented immigrants added to more than 10 million who currently reside in the U.S. contribute significant value and pose no crime and security risks.
Sadly, as disastrous European experiences demonstrate, compassionate good will must be tempered with equally good sense regarding damaging collateral consequences.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015) and "Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax" (2012). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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