OPINION

Commentary

The waves of illegal immigrants who infiltrate advanced Western societies are nothing but a modern version of the foreign tribes who invaded the empires of ancient times and the Middle Ages. In those times, there were raids by wild horsemen who sought to settle on richer land and a better environment. Today, they are wretched people packed together in old cargo ships or in the back of trucks, looking for a better life. The root cause is the same: The great difference in living standards causes an inflow from the underdeveloped to the developed world. This the principle of the communicating vessels on a social level. The wave of illegal migration will constantly grow, making it increasingly hard to tackle. This is, first, because the rift in the distribution of wealth is deepening, while the precipitous population increase in underdeveloped countries is worsening the problem. The drama of illegal immigration has prompted the Western world to adopt a series of half-measures. While Western states are taking measures against illegal entry, in practice they tolerate all illegal immigrants who finally settle on their territory. This inconsistent policy ends up fueling illegal migration. The fact that a large number of people manage to settle in the Promised Land vindicates hope and keeps the dream of a new life alive among those who remain in their original countries. In effect, a growing number of Third World citizens attempt to take the leap. The West ought to answer this crucial issue by either opening up its borders, and hence suffer the inevitable consequences, or strictly implement a policy of re-entry. But for this policy to yield fruit there has to be a clear distinction between the notions of the political refugee and the illegal migrant. Second, controls have to be intense and strict. Third, there has to be pressure on transit countries, such as Turkey, to take back migrants and promote their re-entry. Especially during periods of crisis and war, the West ought to undertake the cost of building and maintaining settlements for the reception and relief of refugees along the borders of insecure regions. More generally, the policy of containment will only bring short-term results, unless it is combined with the provision of developmental aid to somewhat bridge the gap. This is not dictated by humanitarian concerns but instead by Western self-interest.