Where There Is No Border, the Nations Perish

By Mark Krikorian on September 1, 2015
National Review Online

, September 1, 2015

The ongoing migration crisis in Europe, with its drownings and other deaths, is forcing Europe's post-borders elites into an uncomfortable position. Because they preside over polities that are still somewhat democratic — and the peoples of Europe do not choose to commit national suicide — governments there can't abolish immigration limits altogether, much as they might want to. At the same time, Europe's rulers are unwilling to take the steps needed to enforce the limits nominally on the books.

The result is hundreds of thousands of people from less happier lands calculating that it's worth the relatively small risk of death to make it to Europe, where they will almost certainly be permitted to stay, whether they're formally awarded refugee status or not.

Given the Middle East's disintegration and sub-Saharan Africa's general dysfunction, this means that Europe is at the mercy of the countries to its immediate south. So long as Qaddafi kept order in Libya and Turkey was willing to contain most of the Middle Easterners trying to pass through, a spineless Europe could maintain the façade of immigration limits. There was a lot of immigration even then, but the heat rose slowly enough that the frog, while increasingly restless, had not yet been induced to jump out of the pot.

But with Libya's collapse into anarchy and Turkey's evident unwillingness to stop the flow through its territory, the charade can no longer be maintained. There are hundreds of millions who would undertake the journey — whether jobs await them or not — to ensure that their children grow up in Germany, France, England, or Sweden rather than Syria, Chad, Afghanistan, or Mali. What we are seeing is the vanguard of those millions calling Europe's bluff.

And Europe's elite seems to have no idea how to respond. Germany's immigration chief on Monday said "There can be no upper limit set on the intake of people who are fleeing persecution and need protection." And France's prime minister over the weekend said that anyone and everyone "fleeing war, persecution, torture, oppression, must be welcomed." The push for a common EU response to the migration crisis is basically an attempt by Germany to get other nations to take some of the illegal aliens off its hands.

But the publics of Europe's various nations aren't going to tolerate unlimited flows. The diminution of sovereignty engineered by the EU is bad enough for some share of the population, but many more will object to extinguishing their national existence à la Camp of the Saints. (And "extinguishing" is the right word; just read this piece by an open-borders supporter on how U.S. society would change if 1 billion immigrants moved here.)

Either Europe's governments will start taking muscular action to stem the flow, or those governments will be replaced. I don't think the people running those governments have it in them to do what's required, which means they might have to start getting used to addressing Marine Le Pen as "Madame la Présidente."

The Central American border surge in South Texas was our own decaffeinated, low-calorie version of what Europe is facing. And our elite is at least as weak and emasculated as Europe's. But we are, yet again, blessed by chance — on our southern flank is Mexico, with a functioning, relatively strong state. That enabled the Obama administration to contain the political fallout by slowing the flow without undertaking any meaningful enforcement. After all, virtually all the families and kids waved across the border on Obama's orders are still here, and there is little chance they will ever be made to leave. But through a combination of threats and bribes, the White House got Mexico to do the enforcement for us, and thus Mexico has doubled its deportations of Central Americans. The flow of Central American illegals across the Rio Grande continues, but at "only" the 2013 level (which was the highest up until that time).

The only other country immediately to our south is Cuba, which holds the possibility of turning into our Libya. I don't like the Castros any more than Qaddafi, but we might miss them when they're gone if Cuba's government unravels, the cartels establish a presence, and illegal aliens from around the world use the island as a jumping-off point. Which is why we'd be foolish to ever give up Guantanamo — we're going to need somewhere to drop off the illegal aliens that's not on U.S. soil.

The recent examples of Australia and Israel suggest that advanced democracies are indeed capable of stopping uncontrolled immigration from the Third World. Whether Europe and the United States are up to the challenge remains to be seen.