DD103 Investigating the social world
‘The treatment of immigrants in Europe highlights the physical nature of boundaries.’ Evaluate this statement.
In April 2006, over 200 migrants were returned to Turkey. This was part of the plan of Europe to stem the entry of immigrants into the region. Europe has experienced the entry of more refugees from across the world. In 2015, the number of asylum claims to the EU increased to 1.2 million, a number that exceeds international expectations. More immigrants have been entering the region prompting the European nations to take various actions to control the trend including the use of more fixed and physical boundaries particularly detention centres and building of border fences to control entry of migrants. The strategies have been effective in reducing the number of immigrants in Europe indicating the weakness of the statement that ‘The treatment of immigrants in Europe highlights the physical nature of boundaries.’ However, the more fixed and physical boundaries have led to unjust treatment of the immigrants, indicating the strength of the statement.
Use of detention to control entry of immigrants into Europe is a form of a more fixed and physical nature of boundaries. Across Europe, migrants are held in detention centres for various reasons including lack of a visa, after submission of an asylum, or while awaiting deportation. The detention is supposed to be an administrative process but not a criminal procedure. Europe uses these centres to control their borders, a form of physical boundary form where the movement of the migrants is curtailed (Grant, 2011). Migrants in the centres are treated unjustly considering that the centres have a feel of a prison. The entries of the centres are usually barred with a strict schedule to follow. While some centres are clean others are totally unsuitable for humans. While in the centres, migrants cannot communicate with their families. Lack of money to call family members leads to a lack of a proper support system. The detainees lack a common language making it challenging to communicate with authorities. This affects their cases (Grant, 2011). They are less informed about their immigration cases. Some lack proper response from authorities with some authorities being dishonest and ignoring facts to have the migrants deported.
Research shows that the majority of detainees suffer from mental and physical ailments such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Instead of being protected by the authorities in the centres, migrants experience threatening behaviour. Detainees are usually under constant surveillance by the authorities making them fear for personal safety. Some are forced to cooperate with the process or face a longer detention period. Reporting such threats is impossible as it would affect their cases negatively (Puthoopparambil et al., 2015). When it comes to hygiene, the toilets and bathroom are usually in poor condition and sometimes they are unavailable. The available food is only enough to prevent starvation but is usually of low quality and quantity. The use of detention centres in Europe is a form of physical form of boundary, a system that lacks justice (Puthoopparambil et al., 2015). Instead of helping the detainees to be released from the centres, authorities focus on deporting them. This leaves then powerless over their life.
The use of border walls in Europe as a means to control entry of immigrants illustrates a more fixed and physical nature of boundaries. Many countries in the region have endorsed the building of walls and fences including borders such as Macedonia-Greece, Austria-Italy, and Hungary-Serbia. This is similar to approach taken by the US including the building of the US-Mexico wall. The approach is aimed at curbing migration into Europe (Jones, 2016). Greece for instance completed a 6.5 mile border fence to keep away immigrants. The border with Turkey was a major entry point for immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (Besant, 2012). Many governments have managed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants by building the border fences. However, such measures have only diverted people trying to enter Europe to more dangerous routes. These fences have also denied asylum-seekers their right to a fair and efficient asylum procedure (Jones, 2016). Asylum seekers have a right to seek shelter according to the European Law. However, the fences are unjust as they deprive them of the right.
Some of the erected barriers require that people provide passports to reach the checkpoint. However, most refugees lack such documents and are therefore blocked from accessing points where they can seek asylum. Additionally, security guards make it harder for people to seek asylum in addition to abusing, robbing, beating, and eventually dumping them back known as push-back (Jones, 2016). Turning people back is a form of injustice as it denies vulnerable people an opportunity to seek protection. Additionally, the building of fences causes legal immigrants in Europe to be treated unjustly. The fencing implies that the outside world is a problem. This affects the relationship between majority and minority in Europe hindering the assimilation and integration of legal migrants. This indicates that physical border fences are prone to causing harmful side effects (Jones, 2016). The borders are also used as a form of discrimination against some migrants. For example, while the borders prevent some immigrants from entering Europe, other migrants are allowed to enter the region such as the Polish migrants supported by the Schengen Agreement.
While the statement that ‘The treatment of immigrants in Europe highlights the physical nature of boundaries’ has its strengths, it has a weakness. The statement ignores the positive role that the control of immigrants in Europe through a more fixed and physical boundary have played in reducing the number of people migrating into the region (Besant, 2012). Europe seeks to control illegal immigrants into the region while legal migrants are allowed in. The control prevents the entry of criminals into the region who can take advantage of the migration policies putting the lives of Europeans in danger. Through the physical boundaries, Europe can prevent such entries improving the security of the region. Immigrants have positive impacts on host countries including enhancing the economy. However, having some control measures through physical boundaries is essential for home countries in preventing loss of talents and also for host countries on preventing entry of criminals especially during this period that terrorism is a major global concern (Besant, 2012).
It is clear that more fixed and physical boundaries have potential for addressing the influx of immigrants. However, the boundaries should not be applied in a manner that will harm people wishing to immigrate to other nations. Immigrants are beneficial to the host countries in various ways most especially in promoting economic development. Countries should therefore seek to support them. Some immigrants are pushed to new regions by poor living conditions, political crisis, and wars. Host countries should therefore seek to help them as humans rather than causing them more harm. The use of detention centres and building of border walls, that is, the physical boundaries provides only a short-term solution to the entry of immigrants in Europe and hence the statement that ‘The treatment of immigrants in Europe highlights the physical nature of boundaries.’ The approaches have promoted injustice treatment against immigrants. Europe should seek alternative strategies to address the issue of immigrants in the region. Strategies that will promote just treatment of immigrants and at the same time prevent entry of criminals in the name of migrants.
Besant, A. (2012). Greece completes border wall to keep out immigrants. Public Radio International. Retrieved on July 20, 2018 from https://www.pri.org/stories/2012-12- 17/greece-completes-border-wall-keep-out-immigrants
Grant, S. (2011). Immigration Detention: Some Issues of Inequality. The Equal Rights Review, Vol.7, pp. 69-82.
Jones, R. (2016). Borders and Walls: Do Barriers Deter Unauthorized Migration? Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved on July 20, 2018 from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/borders-and-walls-do-barriers-deter- unauthorized-migration
Puthoopparambil, S., Ahlberg, B., & Bjerneld, M. (2015). A prison with extra flavours”: experiences of immigrants in Swedish immigration detention centres. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp.73-85