The increased movement of people is a long-term global trend which makes attempts closing borders both impractical and counter-productive, argues Demos director Tom Bentley in an essay published on openDemocracy today.
Tightening national border controls may actually reduce national security by fuelling the illegal traffic in migrants by criminal gangs also associated with drugs and gunning running. Yet few of the politicians currently calling for tighter border controls are prepared to acknowledge the trade-off.
‘We must accept that Europe is an attractive destination to migrants precisely because our wealth and opportunity depend on open connections to the rest of the world,’ says Tom Bentley. ‘But equally politicians have to acknowledge deep public unease about the apparent erosion of national identity and security that increased migration causes.’
The Immigration Problem is the first output from a major Demos/openDemocracy project to stimulate public debate on the long-term prospects for migration to Europe. The project has been led by Theo Veenkamp, head of strategy of the Dutch ministry of justice and former director of the Netherlands refugee service. He worked on the project in a personal capacity during a sabbatical at Demos in 2002.
The report on the first phase of this project will combine detailed analysis of current migration trends with a narrative account of a possible scenario for Europe in 2050. The starting point was a recognition that all European nations will need to work together to develop more legitimate and sustainable policies to manage mass movement of people towards Europe.
Anthony Barnett, editor of openDemocracy, said: “This report will introduce a totally new way to think about migration in Europe. openDemocracy, the independent website for global arguments, will bring together authoritative opinions of all kinds to debate its radical concepts and proposals.”
Notes to editors
- Managing Mass Migration in 2050 (working title) will be published by Demos and openDemocracy in late March. An online discussion of the issues raised will run on openDemocracy.net in the following months.
- The second phase of the project will combine detailed policy analysis with an ongoing public debate about the challenge of mass migration.