Sunday, June 10, 2007

Nice chap that he is, nevertheless a student of mine was tut-tutting, in that slightly distant, airy way that Euros tend to have, about problems on the Mexico-US border.

To be fair to him he had actually visited the Mexico-US border, and he was commenting on the fence he saw there. I pointed out that the fenced areas were comparatively small- concentrated on urban areas. They do intend to expand them though.

But the difference between Europe and the US can be seen in the fact that in the US the debate on immigration is open, is transparent, a source of conversation across the whole nation.

In Europe the border issues may be more acute, taking "borders" to mean the borders of the EU. The problems are primarily to the South, although it seems to me that immigration from the East is just more tolerable to the Euros, in part because it isn't as visually obvious.

As so often with Europe though, the disgrace is so immediately under our noses we can't see it. There's a mechanism, it seems, that enables us to switch off to problems in other EU countries, while claiming them for our own when there's something positive and noteworthy going on in them. It may be the fact that we're just not Europeans at all ;-).

Ok, ok, and the issue is: the scandalous deaths and hardships endured by immigrants from Africa in Morocco and on the high seas.

According to the Goethe Institute, "Between November 2005 and February 2006, 1,300 people died en route to the Canary Islands alone.".

But you want fences, right? Well, the EU's got 'em, all right. And they're 6 metres high, backed by over a thousand border guards, tear gas, watch towers, rubber bullets- all of which are quite liable to be brought into action. The fences enclose those little colonial enclaves which the Spanish have never wanted to give up in North Morocco, even as they desired the return of other alleged real estate.

I dare say there is some heated rhetoric in the US about a war on immigrants. In Europe, or on Europe's edge, it's a reality. One episode illustrates:

"on 28 September 2005, the refugees decided to storm the fence. Night after night, hundreds of them scaled the barricade using homemade ladders. The guards shot at them, and at least seven died in the hail of bullets. 1,200 were locked into buses by the Moroccan Army and driven to the southern border of Morocco in the Sahara, where they were left in the desert without any food or water. Even weeks later the local inhabitants reported that they were still finding bodies".

In fact, what appears to be the case in Europe's border strategy is an approach of Darwinian selective cruelty- make the crossing so hard, so vicious, that only the fittest either attempt to make it or succeed in making it. And even when they have, that's not the end of the story.

This all happens under our noses, without much of a murmur. Indeed, how would we affect it, even if we considered it our problem? It's a policy so extreme that it has all the hallmarks of never having been discussed in an open forum, but instead imposed by some shadowy securicrats. That, there, is the Euros' democratic deficit. Right there.

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