By Joe Guzzardi
September 4, 2015
As the European migration crisis mounts, and with seemingly few solutions acceptable to all, one image underlines the tragedy: three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lifeless body face down on a Turkish beach. Aylan and his mother died when a 15-foot dinghy flipped over and tossed them into the sea. Smugglers had promised Aylan’s father Abdullah and his mother Rehan safe passage from Turkey to Greece on their way to their ultimate Canadian destination.
The Kurdi story exploded onto social media, and set off outrage throughout Western Europe and in Canada where it’s become the focal point of national elections. Kurdi, a Syrian Kurd, tried to migrate to Canada legally as a refugee to join his sister, but various complications with his family’s visa application ultimately frustrated him to the point where he felt compelled to hire a smuggler. Kurdi paid $4,450 U.S. in exchange for what smugglers promised would be a “yacht.” Instead, they showed up with the raft.
Migrant smuggling is a multibillion dollar industry with 200 rings in Greece and dozens more in Hungary, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. Even the discovery of 71 suffocated migrants found in the back of a sealed truck along an Austrian highway hasn’t slowed the illicit business.
Tens of thousands have fled war-torn and economically struggling countries hoping to find better lives, and are mostly headed toward Western Europe where political establishment welcomes them. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have agreed on “a permanent and obligatory mechanism” to accept more migrants. Hollande added that “today what exists is no longer enough. We must do more,” even though the largest refugee influx since World War II has flooded Europe’s borders with more than 300,000 migrants this summer alone
But the demographic and social consequences of accepting too many refugees too soon, and without any well-defined plan on how to accommodate them could mean the dissolution of those nations as they’re historically known. Discussing population’s tipping points, George Igler, a London Discourse Institute analyst, wondered if the current trends continue for one or two decades more how many French people would be left in France, how many German people in Germany, and how many English people in England.
Critics of unchecked migration point to Sweden as an example of how poorly ill-conceived refugee programs fail. For years, Sweden has taken in more migrants per capita than any other Europe nation. Today, segregation and unemployment among refugees remain high. Predominantly migrant gangs toss hand grenades at each other during street battles. Some areas are so dangerous that local police consider them no-go zones. Swedish economist Tino Sanandaji, with the Stockholm School of Economics, warns that his country faces collapse in the face of overwhelming migration.
The challenge for Europe, and perhaps eventually the United States, is how to balance the emotional and delicate refugee problem within the confines of what’s morally and fiscally practical for the accepting countries. So far, Europe’s leaders have done an abysmal job of letting the world know that they intend to enforce their immigration laws, and have instead sent the message that efforts to enter illegally may be worth the risk. The option of letting millions of refugees come legally isn’t practical or sustainable.
Last summer, in violation of federal immigration law, the Obama administration allowed thousands of Central Americans to walk across the border, turn themselves into officials, and ultimately be accepted into mainstream society. Throughout Central and Latin America, millions watched the video footage of those illegal crossings and, as has happened in Europe, concluded that if they come, they’ll be allowed to stay.
For the U.S., a catastrophe the magnitude of Europe’s may not happen soon. But the seeds have been planted that might allow last summer’s alien surge to develop from a relative trickle into a full-fledged flood.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]