Ius Gentium

University of Baltimore School of Law's Center for International and Comparative Law Fellows discuss international and comparative legal issues

Restricting Schengen – Keeping out Refugees

4 Comments

Raiven Taylor 

Recently, European countries have come up with plans to keep migrants out. In June of 2015, the EU had an emergency meeting and came up with a “10-point plan” to “capture and destroy” boats used to smuggle in migrants.[i] Not long after this plan hatched, Hungary and other European countries erected wire fences to keep migrants out. [ii] Germany, Denmark, Austria and a few other countries suspended their willingness to adhere to the Schengen rules and reintroduce border controls.[iii] The Schengen treaty allows for open travel in the 26-nation bloc known as the Schengen area.[iv] This area, created in 1995 and originally consisting of 26 EU nations, abolished passport controls at common borders.[v] The recent suspension of this was thought to shock the rest of EU when it came to border controls to deal with the migration crisis. Because Germany borders nine other countries, without its participation, Schengen fails.[vi] This led other countries to begin closing their borders, criminalizing most new arrivals as illegal immigrants.[vii] With all of the changes, it has been difficult for migrants to find a country that will allow them to enter. This also makes it difficult for those countries that CAN take these immigrants into their territory because resources are tight. As of September 2015, 63,000 asylum seekers from Hungary and Austria entered Bavaria, which is more than the total of asylum seekers for the enter year of 2014.[viii]

RT Blog1_Photo1

The EU proposed a deal with Turkey, promising $3.3 billion for it to close down its borders.[ix] Denmark has also passed a law allowing it to seize valuables from asylum seekers in order to pay for their upkeep.[x] All of this is leads to bigger problems because even though countries are locking down their borders, migrants are finding other, often very dangerous ways, to get in anyway. On February 12, 2016 the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed its concern for the increasing restrictive measures on the part of EU states, stressing that something must be done to protect the fundamental human rights of the people trying to reach Europe.

RT Blog1_Photo2

Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) stated that more than 80,000 migrants arrived in Europe by boat in the first 6 weeks of 2016, with 400 dying in their attempt. Statistics show that 58 percent of migrants coming to Europe are women and children. One in 3 people arriving in Greece are children, compared to the 1 in 10 in September 2015.[xi] It has also been reported that two children drown every day, on average, since September 2015 as their families attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea, totaling more than 340 children.[xii] UNCHR and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urge countries to cooperate and make dangerous journeys like this safer for children.[xiii]

A UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants, François Crépeau, stated that although “Europe has always been a strong advocate of human rights in Europe and elsewhere… its struggle to maintain control of its borders however…is being tested…[and by]stripping away the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants, Europe is creating a scary new ‘normal.’”[xiv] Over-reliance and securitization of borders will not work to keep migrants out because they will find another way in order to survive, allowing smugglers to continue to adapt, prosper, and exploit migrants.[xv] In order to combat smuggling, states must provide regular, safe and cheap mobility solutions, including both identity and security checks.[xvi]

RT Blog1_Photo3

The European public, predominantly, has the view that Europe needs stricter controls, bigger fences, and more military control.[xvii] Although the public might favor these stricter policies, politicians view them as an immoral and an unworkable approach.[xviii] The question is how will European countries pursue this issue and in what ways will immigration be affected long term? Will countries continue keeping its borders open? Will countries continue with daily limits on migrants? I believe countries should find a less dangerous way for migrants to travel while also coming up with a way to stem the tide of migration. It is somewhat understandable for countries to not want to be overpopulated and have an extra burden on state-run agencies. However, risking the lives of migrants is not the way to overcome this problem. Many organizations are attempting to convince the politicians to work this issue out as peacefully as possible and in a way that lessens the dangers for migrants. Something needs to be done – sooner, rather than later!

[i] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/31/europe-bind-act-morally-on-immigrants-heed-its-citizens

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/13/germany-border-crackdown-deals-blow-to-schengen-system

[v] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/31/europe-bind-act-morally-on-immigrants-heed-its-citizens

[vi] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/13/germany-border-crackdown-deals-blow-to-schengen-system

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/31/europe-bind-act-morally-on-immigrants-heed-its-citizens

[x] Id.

[xi] http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53217#.VsxxWMfiQtg

[xii] http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53272#.VsxxYsfiQtg

[xiii] Id.

[xiv] http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53217#.VsxxWMfiQtg

[xv] id.

[xvi] Id.

[xvii] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/31/europe-bind-act-morally-on-immigrants-heed-its-citizens

[xviii] Id.

Advertisements

Author: Ius Gentium

Ius Gentium is a legal forum for the University of Baltimore School of Law's Center for International and Comparative Law Fellows to write on and discuss international and comparative legal issues.

4 thoughts on “Restricting Schengen – Keeping out Refugees

  1. Do you think this is a byproduct of the many stresses that have fallen upon the Union over the last few years? (With the UK considering an exit from the EU and other countries displaying concern or contempt for certain EU policies as examples of such stress) Do you think it possible that the EU will take a regressive approach toward union as the result of these strains? Is it possible that the EU could eventually break up?

    • I am not sure if it is a byproduct over stresses on the Union. I think if it were, more countries would be involved and would have been involved sooner instead of it being more of a domino affect like it seems to be. I do not think (or at least hope) that it will affect the the EU as a whole. I do think if the problem cannot be resolved between majority of the EU members, there will be some backlash against those countries that are opposed to compromise. I also think it would take a lot more to break up the EU.

  2. When I was in Norway and Denmark this past summer visiting family, one of the major problems they’re seeing is an influx of Romanians. There has also been an accompanying increase in crime. Where people didn’t have to lock their doors out in the villages, they’ve had to start doing so because of the amount of theft occurring. The perception of the Romanians coming in is rather like the perception of Mexicans many people in this country harbor. My cousin was observing that many migrants come to Norway to take advantage of the social safety nets available there. She told my sister and I about a woman who begs near my cousin’s salon, and when the woman became pregnant, she took two years of “maternity leave” from begging. It’s a large problem, and when Obama announced the United States would take in Syrian refugees, my cousin’s response to a post my sister had shared on Facebook was, “Good! Europe is getting crowded!” It’s concerning. I observed the same hostility in Denmark when my sister and I were on the train, and a Somali woman boarded with her baby. The mood of the passengers in the train shifted. I could sense the hostility towards the woman, especially because she spoke very little Danish. My sister spoke to her a little, and it was interesting to hear her story (English was easier for her to speak than Danish).

  3. I think what the Union is doing is a temporary solution, and it is doomed to fail if a more comprehensive solution isn’t put in place. While regulating migration is certainly a worthy cause, I wonder – at what cost? Rather than spending money keeping migrants out, why not invest in programs to that would help that adjust to life in European countries – even temporarily? Another concern of mine is, as Esther alluded to, the shift in how people view migrants based on ethnic and racial lines. With the Union enforcing laws that justify people’s prejudice, I worry about the long-term consequences of prejudice brewing in these countries.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s