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February 17, 2014
February 17, 2014

So what? Do we open up the borders?

Author: Isaac Rosa Translator: Eleni Nicolaou
Source: El Diario  Categories: Borders, Letters from home
This article is also available in: elesfr
So what? Do we open up the borders?

As soon as someone questions immigration, out comes the same trap question.

It never fails. In any discussion on immigration, when someone questions the immigration policy, either in a television talk show or in a dinner with friends, there comes the usual annoying guy with the same “yellowish” question, thrown to you as a bucket full of water. “So what? Do we open up the borders for anyone to enter?”

This is where most discussions usually dead-end. In a trap. Because the mere formulation of the question is already a trap, a sneaky way to cancel your arguments, by getting at you, snatching you from the party or dinner, in a heartbeat, taking you in an official car and placing you in the chair of the President of the Government, putting then in your hand the pen decrees signed with: “Come on, let’s see what you do now, smart ass, let’s see if you dare open up the borders”.

Well, no, listen! Do not let yourself be cornered again. Defend yourself. To begin with, refuse to answer the tricky question. First, because it is not your problem to solve, it was not you who created it, so as to be expected of you to solve it within 24 hours. Second, because it makes no sense speaking individually about borders, rather than about an entire failed system that forces thousands of people to leave their lands. The reasonable answer is, “Yes, I do support open borders, but within a radical transformation that goes far beyond the immigration law”.

Does that mean that we must continue shielding our borders, until the international economic system which forces displacement changes? Not that either. At least not while paying such a heavy price as we’ve seen in Ceuta.

No, because the problem is not the borders; much less the southern borders taking into account that the entry of people from Ceuta, Melilla or the sea is negligible. In the years of economic growth, when more than half a million migrants arrived, it was estimated that more than 70% of them did so by plane, through a Spanish airport, entering with legal papers or as tourists who then would stay here. The rest were mostly coming by car from other European countries and only less than 5% by boat, even though the only images of immigration the media have been showing are of those coming from the sea.

Today the same applies to Ceuta and Melilla. The 30,000 migrants that would supposedly be in North Africa waiting to enter are still a modest figure compared to the movement through airports and highways.

But also the border itself is not the problem, either open or closed. I have travelled around half the world and I have never had to jump a fence or reach a beach swimming, and sometimes there were countries more shielded than Ceuta. In the same way that the disappearance of border controls in Europe did not empty any country. So let’s not focus on borders, since the problem is not there.

Neither the height of the fence [1] nor the number of deaths during the attempt to cross it is a crucial element. Years ago there was no double fence with razor blades, and yet people were not crossing it by the hundreds. No border can prevent entry, it just makes it more painful or operates as a perverse natural selection mechanism ensuring that only the strongest, the smartest, those who pay more would enter.

Beyond that, more things should be reminded to that annoying guy asking what we should do with the borders tomorrow; for instance, the “avalanche” of more than five million migrants who came during the decade before the crisis. And not only were there no social conflicts or increased crime because of them, but instead they were essential to sustaining the prosperity of those years. The newcomers were mostly workers who generated a lot of wealth, which we did not share with them equally.

Finally, inform that idiot that even if the 30,000 Africans entered the country tomorrow, there would still be more migrants leaving it. For several years now, there are more people leaving the country than entering it. And by the way, among those who are leaving, there are also Spaniards, being sure, on their way out, that they will not find a damn border blocking them.


[1] Fence of Melilla

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