People who read blogs or publications from the Center for Immigration Studies will likely see the phrase "open borders" on a regular basis. Some may assume it's used hyperbolically. After all, are there really people who advocate open borders? There are. They even have their own websites – visit them if you wish; I'm not going to link to them, but you can find them easily enough.
But most often, when I use the phrase, I refer to a more subtle subset of open borders supporters – people whose goals mirror those of overt advocates but who recognize that admitting it would antagonize whole swathes of the American public. And so they clothe their goals in the language of moderation, all the while pitching as many wrenches as they can into the cogs of the legal and bureaucratic mechanisms established to ensure border control. They often do this with the tacit assistance of lawmakers – and, certainly under this administration, the overt assistance of the White House. So it isn't hyperbole when I use the phrase.
But what would open borders look like if they existed? We got a taste of it with the Central American "surge" during the summer of 2014 thanks to the administration's lax immigration policies (which, apparently, doesn't know of, or has willfully forgotten the lessons we should have learned from the Mariel boatlift of 1980).
But now we've gotten a full-on view of an open borders environment in all its glory, courtesy of the migrant crisis that continues in Europe after a full year. And a dismal, dystopic sight it is, replete with terrorism and crime; nationality and identity fraud; cheap, plentiful fake documents; callous smugglers making fortunes at the expense of their cargo; murder of some migrants by others based on their own intolerant religious views, even as they seek compassion and multicultural acceptance from their intended new hosts; maritime deaths by the thousands; and an overwhelmed and completely befuddled European Union (EU). Sound attractive?
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has done so much to encourage the human tidal wave, has stopped channeling her inner Jimmy Carter with "open arms and open hearts" kinds of remarks (his comments helped precipitate the Mariel boatlift). But she still demands that the arrivals be parceled out in quotas among the EU members, including angry and resistant newer Eastern and Central European neighbors, most of whom are – compared with Western Europe – relatively impoverished and joined the EU in the first place to bootstrap themselves up. Instead, they've gotten tagged with part of the bill for Greece bailouts and demands that they absorb thousands of illegal aliens into their already struggling economies.
BBC World News tells us that the number of illicit arrivals to the EU in the past 12 months has hit the one million mark. As I type this, EU leaders are meeting for the umpteenth time to ponder their navels and calibrate the next move in trying to stem the flow. They seem to be clueless:
- As a body, they've made token efforts at maritime "interdiction" which truthfully look much more like search-rescue-resettlement than any enforcement effort, since no one is turned back.
- They claim to have ramped up their anti-smuggling efforts, though there isn't much evidence that's working, given the mushroom-like growth of the industry (in no small measure thanks, ironically, to the EU's own ineffectual efforts at border control).
- Amusingly, they also attempted to buy off Turkey—one of the prime jumping-off points for the majority of migrants—with several billion euros in aid, as well as vague promises to re-look at Turkey's integration into the EU. That hasn't worked out as hoped. News reports tell us that even as Europe moves into winter weather with all that entails, land- and seaward, there are still over 2,000 people making the journey into Europe daily. Turkey's Prime Minister, being the wily fellow that he is, has made a mockery of the deal, saying, in effect: "You give me sham assurances about EU membership and a boatload of money; in return, I take the money and give you sham policing against migrants exiting my country's borders."
The whole thing would smack of a farcical comedy if it weren't so tragic and carry with it the potential for so much carnage.
Europe's Schengen agreement has done much to permit the stampede of migrants to continue unabated. The agreement, which includes most EU countries plus a few others, allows crossing of internal borders within the Schengen zone with virtually no immigration checks or barriers, once the zone has been penetrated. The conjunction of the migrant crisis and Schengen policies directly contributed to the most recent Paris massacres, perpetrated in part by jihadists who floated through nations into France using bogus identities as a part of the flow.
Events have so disturbed the more recent EU members in the East that some have begun erecting significant physical barriers and instituting routine border patrols, both inward- and outward-directed. Subsequent to the attacks, even France, old-line EU founder, has begun investing heavily in security measures that include not only beefing up their intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but also border checks to see who exactly is piercing their frontiers. During this meeting of EU leaders that I mentioned at the outset, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said forthrightly that if rules regarding migrant entry and care are not changed, there is a strong possibility that British voters may vote to leave the EU in an upcoming referendum. This is highly significant, even though Britain isn't a Schengen agreement member, because it could be the domino that starts the tumble. Certainly the newest EU members must be asking themselves whether entry was worth the purchase price.
Liberals and enforcement critics in this country have often waxed eloquent about how we should be emulating the immigration policies of chic and progressive Europe, pointing to the Schengen agreement as the example par excellence of enlightened, post-national borderless travel, as if it were the equivalent of a Michelin-starred dining establishment.
But the evidence is in, and ordinary Americans need to consider what that means with all of its ugly ramifications. "Would you like open borders with that burger, sir?"