Walls Work: Illegal Migration Collapses in EU Countries with Strong Borders

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

European Union (EU) countries which constructed border fences in response to the migrant crisis have seen a collapse in illegal migration, while unprotected states have seen it increase.

Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, reported drastic falls in illegal immigration for countries which have constructed border defences in its Risk Analysis for 2017.

Hungary, which led the charge on strong borders, was able to cut illegal crossings from Serbia to 25,000 – a massive drop from the 2015 high of 200,000.

Neighbouring Croatia condemned Hungary’s robust stance at the time, with then Prime Minister Zoran Milanović promising his country would not follow suit.

“We are ready to accept and direct those people,” he said, adding that “barbed wire in Europe in the 21st century is not an answer, it’s a threat”.

Just days later, however, Milanović completely reversed his stance, the country having been inundated with thousands of migrants.

“We cannot register and accommodate these people any longer,” he said. “They will get food, water and medical help, and then they can move on. The European Union must know that Croatia will not become a migrant ‘hotspot’. We have hearts, but we also have heads.”

Croatia quietly joined Hungary in constructing what Frontex describes as “a technical obstacle” along its Serbian border. As a consequence, illegal migration via this route plummetted from 500,000 in 2015 to just 100,000 in 2016.

The clear pattern which emerges from the risk analysis is that, as one country institutes strong border controls, neighbouring countries which remain lax see a corresponding increase in illegal migration.

For example, the report describes how “African illegal stayers who primarily entered the EU through the Central Mediterranean route significantly decreased in Austria” after the German-speaking country “upgraded the controls of its national border with Italy”. The statistics show illegal stayers growing in Switzerland, which is outside the EU but inside the bloc’s borderless Schengen zone, “at the same time”.

Despite clear statistical evidence of the effectiveness of walls in tackling illegal migration, Europe’s leading politicians remain wedded to open borders.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s unelected High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, has insisted that “we have a history and a tradition and an identity based on the fact that we celebrate when walls are broken down and bridges are built”.

Her statement was seen as a thinly-veiled swipe at U.S. President Donald J. Trump, and was reiterated by the bloc’s Trade Commissioner earlier on Wednesday.

The German foreign minister, whose country has absorbed millions of unvetted illegal migrants at a cost of over 20 billion euros and suffered terror attacks as a result, has also told the president that “building walls is a bad idea”.

Surveys suggest that a majority of European voters do in fact wish to severely curtail immigration, particularly from the Islamic world.


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