(This is not just another article about immigration. You could have read thousands in the past few months. “So why is it different then?” you may ask. At least it won’t urge you to accept one point of view. It will describe quite a few obscure concepts, but unlike any other article, it accepts legitimate rationales from both sides.)
Throughout history, there have always been mass migrations, so sociologists see today’s events in the same way. Yet today the folks who are on their way to the Canaan, or India, or Mesopotamia, or Europe, or the New World are now facing extraordinary obstacles. So, what is different now? Well, the simple answer is that we live in a multinational world, where there are no ‘folks’. There are nations. Nationality defines new-born children, whether they will like it or not. Whether they are living in wealthy or impoverished circumstances.
The big question about today’s migrants is whether they are seeking economic welfare or asylum. To answer this, we must distinguish between the two, but we can’t. You see, the problem here is that some tend to seek asylum for their economic well-being.
The ambition to earn a decent living in another country has never been wrong, however, today in the age of nations and supranational unions such ambitions face several legislative and economic hurdles: there are borders, there are inspections and there are background checks to be met. Most of the time, those who are pro-migration tend to say that all people are equals with the same basic rights. Yet these rights are not granted to some migrants, who have avoided border control and entered a country without its permission.
Why? Because they are so desperate and frightened from a war that they see this as the only possible solution because otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to enter. We are still worried about the numbers of migrants arriving in Europe, even though there are 1.7 million refugees in Turkey, a country of 77 million citizens, and 1.1 million in Lebanon with a population of only 4.5 million! By comparison, Europe is right now dealing with only 800,000 migrants.
And we must take the economic side of this story into consideration as well: hundreds of thousands of people are arriving in the European Union without any understanding of how they will find work and fit into society. This burden has been imposed on the EU. What would it cost to integrate them into society? How could we provide them with jobs? Therefore, system and infrastructure development would be needed to deal with these new arrivals. (Several obstacles.)
Yet many argue that with the right investment of money and time, the long-term rewards for accepting these immigrants could be the recovery of a stagnating economy with slowing productivity and an ageing population. The potential immigrants bring could mean progress for the EU. “Let them in and let them earn.” states “The Economist”. (But can this huge crowd be processed in the currently slow EU system?)
In any case, they just come. And they just keep coming, because they have heard that everything is good in the European Union. Even though there is a war where they come from, there are wars here as well: the war of bureaucracy and the war of institutionalism. That’s the everyday life of a European citizen, however, for migrants, these new challenges mean a new everyday struggle. Just as much as for the recipient nations on the other side of the bureaucratic coin.
And there are more than just current economic and sociological hardships to consider. Over the past 60 years, the EU has trod a path towards regional integrity and mutual benefits within the Union. Not the benefits and integrity outside the borders of Europe. Of course, we are becoming aware of the needs beyond the EU as well, but progress here has always been slow. If we decide to leave the path that we started, the whole foundation of the already shaky union would be questioned. What is at stake here is the security of the economy and foundation of the Union against the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of war-ravaged, internationally displaced people.
This is not the first time Europe has faced this debate. After the Kosovo genocide, Europe promised not to let such tragedies happen again and not to stand by without taking action. Right now, it’s not the interests of EU countries and the poor and war-torn nations that will collide, but theories, foundations, values and ethics. One side of the debate will lose, eventually. Right now, we are just waiting, while another one bites the dust.