Tuesday, February 27, 2018

For Third World Migrants: Next Stop America

Writing in The New Republic Lauren Markham looks into the future and shows us the next phase in the international refugee crisis. As Europe closes its doors and declares refugees to be unwelcome, many of them are traveling to South and Central America in order to enter a nation that believe will be more welcoming. 

They are coming to the United States of America. They know that the Trump administration has been cracking down on such migrants, putting them in detention or deporting them. And yet, they are willing to gamble that American progressives, drunk on their righteous feelings of cosmopolitanism, will eventually prevail.

How big is the crisis? Markham begins:

Today, more than 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes—a higher number than ever recorded, as people flee war, political upheaval, extreme poverty, natural disasters, and the impacts of climate change. Since 2014, nearly 2 million migrants have crossed into Europe by sea, typically landing in Italy or Greece. They hail from dozens of countries, but most are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nigeria—countries struggling with war, political repression, climate change, and endemic poverty.

One might mention that third world misery is not all that new. What is new are Western political leaders, from Angela Merkel to Barack Obama, who sent the message that Europe and even the United States would welcome them. Open your borders and people take notice. They see another option and they make their move.

America is looking better now that Europe is cracking down on refugees:

In response to the migrant crisis, European countries have sent strong messages that newcomers are no longer welcome; they’ve built fences to stop refugees from crossing their borders and elected far-right politicians with staunchly anti-immigrant messages. Meanwhile, most asylum cases are stalled in overburdened court systems, with slim prospects for any near-term resolution, which leaves many migrants stuck in the wicked limbo of a squalid, under-resourced refugee camp or austere detention facility. Today, European authorities have stiffened their resistance not only to new arrivals, but to the hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers who arrived years before and remain in an eerie liminal zone: forbidden to live or work freely in Europe and unwilling, or often unable, to go home.

One door closes, another opens. The migrants are now moving toward South America, the better to make their way to the United States:

Each year, thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia make their way to South America and then move northward, bound for the United States—and their numbers have been increasing steadily. It’s impossible to know how many migrants from outside the Americas begin the journey and do not make it to the United States, or how many make it to the country and slip through undetected. But the number of “irregular migrants”—they’re called extra-continentales in Tapachula—apprehended on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico has tripled since 2010.

Right now the numbers are small. Surely, the Trump policies have discouraged some of them. And yet, they are awaiting the defeat of Trump and the return to Obama era policies, those championed by Democrats:

They remain a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans crossing into the United States. But it is a hastening trickle that may well become a flood. “These ‘extra-continental’ migrants will probably increase,” said Roeland De Wilde, chief of mission for the International Organization for Migration in Costa Rica, “given the increased difficulties in entering Europe, relative ease of entry in some South American countries, and smugglers’ increased organization across continents.”

Markham believes that it’s inevitable. Vulnerable human beings, she says, will always find a way. I prefer to think of the problem in terms of bad policy, of Merkel’s open arms policies and Obama’s DACA directive. 

Anyway, Markham says:

All Europe has done is redirect the flow of vulnerable humanity, fostering the development of a global superhighway to move people over this great distance. The doors will not hold, and neither will the fences. You can build a wall, but it will not work. Desperate people find a way.

She continues that the Trump administration poses a problem for these migrants:

Irregular migrants have risked everything to try to make it to the United States, believing that their chances of finding shelter are better there than in Europe. But, given the increasingly draconian immigration policies of the Trump administration, have they made a bad bet? Most extra-continentales know that immigration is complicated in the United States, but they see it as a set of bureaucratic obstacles that are easier to surmount than those in Europe and far easier than what they have endured to get there. Having struggled so mightily to reach Tapachula and the final leg of their journey, they should be forgiven for believing that the worst hardships are behind them. Focused, as they are, on simply surviving, it is hard for them to know the extent of the challenges that await them in the United States.

So, as America fights over immigration legislation, it is worthwhile to understand that a Trump defeat will send a signal to people around the world: America is open to migrants.


Sam L. said...

The Dems a) want to replace the team leaders so that they can b )hire a new team to replace the old one.

Jack Fisher said...

In the words of mid-29th century political commentator Peter Townsend, "meet the new boss."

Sam L. said...

The Dems think they'll be safe in their gated communities. They will be SOOOOO wrong.