Open Borders Rely on Political Irrationality

All too often, open-border policy stems from the fact that politics is determined by a class of people with deep-seated illusions about the facts surrounding immigration. Sweden is an ideal example of this pattern. Of all the countries in Europe, Sweden is especially notorious for having welcomed large numbers of refugees it could not properly integrate. In 2015, notes columnist James Traub, the country absorbed 163,000 of them. It has not gone well. Skyrocketing crime rates, mass unemployment among immigrants, and heavy strain on the welfare state have made Swedes weary of incoming foreigners. As a result, writes Traub, even Sweden’s Social Democrats have embraced ‘harsh language’ which used to be monopolised by ‘far-right nativists.’

This year’s November issue of the academic journal Kyklos includes the article Misrepresentation and migration, which explores the causes of that initial Swedish openness to migrants. Authors Anders Kärnä and Patrik Öhberg note that the extreme permissiveness with which migrants were let into the country ran radically counter to the will of the Swedish electorate. Voters’ dissatisfaction brought a right-wing government to power in 2022 and fueled the rise of the hard-right Sweden Democrats. Backlash was so strong that in 2015 the country’s prime minister was forced to make a U-turn and advocate for tougher restrictions after pushing for open borders earlier that year.

So why did the political class initially defy popular opinion to welcome hundreds of thousands of foreigners? Kärnä and Öhberg argue that Swedish politicians held far different views on the subject than their constituents. Polling coducted over the years shows that in every major party other than the Sweden Democrats, politicians were significantly less likely than their constituents to favour accepting fewer refugees until 2018. The authors conclude that pushback from the voting public, including through the emergence of the Sweden Democrats as a political competitor, eventually drove elected officials in other parties to revise their positions. Nevertheless, politicians from two of the three left-wing parties continued to be somewhat more pro-refugee than their constituents in 2018, the last year for which numbers are provided.

Contrary to what one might assume, the disagreement between politicians and voters did not occur because the politicians were better informed than the common people. On the contrary, they were deeply mistaken about the effects of their policies. The authors cite survey data from 2015 and 2017, showing that most Swedish politicians thought the economic impact of accepting refugees was ‘positive in the long run.’ However, they demonstrate that this belief is contradicted by all available peer-reviewed journal articles and by all the expert analyses of the issue which have appeared in official reports by the Swedish government. The existing studies indicated, and still indicate, that refugees are harmful rather than beneficial to Swedish economic performance. In other words, the idea that refugees were good for the economy was a piety which the political class held against all evidence. 

Sweden’s experience is not unique. The immigration debate in the United States  has also been marked by false ideas which politicians continue to hold despite overwhelming evidence against them. As Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies has observed, the notion that immigration can remedy ‘the aging of American society’ continues to be unquestioningly advanced by advocates of open borders even though it is blatantly inconsistent with the facts. The increasing average age of immigrants, their decreasing fertility rates, and the sheer size of the influx which would be required to offset American demographic woes make such a project impracticable.

Kärnä and Öhberg’s paper considers the irrationality of unfettered immigration only from an economic standpoint, but it is harmful in other ways as well. In addition to economic consequences, accepting countless immigrants whose values are incompatible with those of the host society creates sociopolitical problems with no obvious solution.

One such issue is organised crime. The Financial Times reports that, relative to population size, Sweden suffers from the third-highest rate of gun deaths of any EU country. A major cause of this epidemic is ‘[w]ell-established criminal gangs’ which are ‘largely run by second-generation immigrants.’ Sweden’s prime minister has identified ‘irresponsible immigration policy and failed integration’ as the root of the epidemic. Meanwhile, as France 24 details, the Swedish government is currently considering options which would let it deport ‘asylum-seekers and immigrants for substance abuse, association with criminal groups or statements threatening Swedish values.’

The political repercussions of large-scale immigration are also severe, and the presence of people who do not share Western values presents a serious threat. For instance, Sweden’s left-wing parties have dithered in their condemnation of Hamas’s terrorist attack against Israel. ‘If you assume,’ explains journalist Richard Orange, ‘that the 200,000, or perhaps even as many as 250,000, Arabic speakers [in Sweden] are broadly pro-Palestinian, that’s an important voter base.’

Dominik Tarczyński, a Member of the European Parliament from Poland, eloquently addressed the sociopolitical implications of immigration in a September speech. He pointed out that despite receiving no large-scale immigration, Poland was prospering economically, and said the Polish people did not want more migrants. ‘You know why? Because there are zero terrorist attacks in Poland,’ he explained, citing EU statistics.

Europol’s data on terrorism do indeed bear out Tarczyński’s claim. The agency’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report for 2023 provides a map of the EU showing how many terrorist attacks and ‘arrests on suspicion of terrorism’ each country experienced in 2022. Poland was among the handful of states where none of either occurred. France was arguably the country most affected, with six attacks and 109 arrests, though Italy suffered twelve attacks and carried out 45 arrests. Notably, jihadist terrorism prompted far more arrests than any other kind of terrorism from 2020 to 2022, although leftist and anarchist terrorism accounted for a few more attacks – 44 versus 30. Sweden experienced an attack during this period. Poland did not.

The migrants’ cultural background is the key issue, more so than immigration itself. On another occasion, Tarczyński told leftist televison host Cathy Newman: ‘We took over two million Ukrainians, who are working, who are peaceful in Poland. We will not receive even one Muslim.’ This, he emphasized, was the will of the Polish electorate. If Tarczyński is representative – and he is – then Poland’s immigration policy is based on a realistic understanding of the effects of mass migration as well as on respect for the will of the people. As Kärnä and Öhberg show, both of these considerations failed to inform Swedish immigration policy for most of the 2000s and 2010s, and it is dubious whether they have enough of an impact even today.

Tarczyński’s motto is ‘Be like Poland.’ Swedish politicians should take that advice to heart. To judge by experience, however, it will fall to Sweden’s voters to make them do so.

Photo Credit.

The Betrayal of Lampedusa

“At midnight tonight her borders will be opened. Already, for the last few days, they’ve been practically unguarded. And I’m sitting here now, slowly repeating, over and over, these melancholy words of an old prince Bibesco, trying to drum them into my head: The fall of Constantinople is a personal misfortune that happened to all of us only last week.” – Jean Raspail, Camp of the Saints, Epilogue (1973).

Within the last 48 hours, the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, once host to 6000 Italians, has been overrun by upwards of 18,000 African migrants, the vast majority of whom are military-age men. Some of them have been shipped to Germany, but they continue to vastly outnumber the native population.

Since their arrival, the migrants have taken to fighting amongst themselves, struggling over the island’s waning and already limited resources, with local officials struggling to maintain control. As every astute observer of politics and history will know, violence within the in-group is typically remedied by violence against an out-group, making the possibility of further and more severe chaos, far from a hamstrung hypothetical, a very real threat at this time.

In no uncertain terms, Lampedusa is experiencing an invasion, one which has been instigated without any formal declaration of war between nations yet will afflict the island in much the same way.

Given the nature of this event, I am reminded of Jean Raspail’s The Camp of The Saints, the final words of which provide the opening to this article. The author grimaces as the last outpost of European civilisation, Switzerland, is forced to capitulate to the ‘rules-based international order’, having been outcast as a rogue state for closing its borders amid a continent-wide migrant invasion.

Lampedusa is symbolic of the transformation which has occurred in towns and cities across all of Europe. From England to Italy, from Spain to Poland, from France to Germany, from Sweden to Greece, mass immigration from Africa and the Middle East, as well as Eastern Europe to a lesser and more regionalised extent, has radically transformed the essence of many European settlements, altering them in such a way not seen since Antiquity.

In England, in this year alone, we’ve become well-acquainted with the dire consequences of mass immigration. From rising tensions between the Blacks and South Asians in Peckham to ethnoreligious violence between Indians and Pakistanis in Leicester, divisions which the established order has tried to dilute by promoting anti-white rhetoric in the name of intersectional social justice.

Amid this litany of troubling events, it is easy to forget our European friends face many of the same problems, and that such problems are not an idiosyncratic quirk of the British state.

Unfortunately, similar to such cases, many will not feel sympathy for the people of Lampedusa. Some of native descent in Europe will remark on the inevitability of this ordeal, as if it was apolitical in nature or without a realistic alternative. Erstwhile, some of foreign descent will wryly remark that such an invasion is deserved; if not ‘deserved’, then a change for the better, and if not a change for the better, then negligible happenstance unworthy of press coverage.

Our leaders have known about Lampedusa’s troubles for no less than 20 years. However, instead of preventing such activity, they have spent decades trying to transform illegal migration to a standard bureaucratic procedure. If you can’t beat them, join them!

Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa has been a prime transit point for African and Middle Eastern migrants seeking to enter Europe. Migrants have been paying smugglers to ship them to the island, from which they are transported to the Italian mainland for processing.

Not that any of the processing matters of course. Those without the right to stay, even under Europe’s distinctly liberal asylum laws, continue to live on the mainland, as their deportation orders are barely enforced.

When the Italian government struck a deal with the Libyans in 2004, obliging the latter to accept African immigrants deported from Italian territories, the European Parliament condemned the agreement, and the ensuing repatriations, as unconscionable, unworkable, and quite possibly, illegal.

In 2009, roughly 2000 migrants overwhelmed the island’s asylum facilities. Only capable of accommodating 850 people, the migrants started to riot. How dare the people of Lampedusa be so unprepared for their completely unscheduled, unsustainable arrival!

Catching word of the riot, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) quickly issued a condemnation; not of the traffickers, not of the authorities, or the migrants, but of the Italian people.

In May 2011, roughly 35,000 migrants had landed on the island since the start of the year. By August, the number had increased to roughly 50,000, with most of the arrivals being men in their 20s and 30s. Compared to the recent arrivals, it is clear things have not changed in this respect either.

Following the 2013 Lampedusa Disaster, in which a boat carrying over 500 migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, sank off the coast, resulting in at least 300 deaths, Pope Francis prayed not for the natives, but those complicit in a criminal operation to illegally enter their home.

In 2015, from January to April, over 1500 migrants died on the route from Libya to Lampedusa, making it the deadliest migrant route in the world, and just as was the case two years prior, efforts went towards making the trafficking network more legal, more safe, and more efficient, rather than ending the practice altogether.

Consequently, boats needn’t travel far off the coast of Africa to be brought to the mainland by the EU or the UN. The prevailing political mentality is that migrant deaths in the Mediterranean are best averted when the EU, the UN, or some other official organisation does the traffickers’ dirty work for them, showing little-to-no consideration for the domestic consequences of their precious so-called ‘humanitarianism’.

In the case of Lampedusa, the idea that an island of one community should become an island of two, lacking a tangible sense of common belonging, situates both groups into a state of war, and such a war is unjust, both in the sense it is unnecessary, and in the course which it is likely to follow, assuming it is not dealt with in a fitting manner.

From the Pelagies to the Aegeans, every island in the Mediterranean is the first in a trail of dominoes, each of increasing size, intersecting at every European capital, with every tremor created from their fall being more forceful than the last.

I do not want what has happened in Lampedusa to happen tomorrow, the day after, next week, next month, next year, or ever after. It is the height of political and moral arrogance to plunge an entire community of people, overnight no less, into such existential uncertainty.

To subject anyone, native or foreigner, to such sordid and egregious indignity is to betray every metric of justice, and anything short of mass deportations, the immediate defunding of complicit NGOs, and the destruction of every treasonous convention and law, will amount to nothing but betrayal, a betrayal of Lampedusa and all the peoples of Europe.

Photo Credit.

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