… Unless Europe acts to reform its policy on migration, 2015 could be the deadliest year yet for the thousands of people who fled to Libya from conflict-torn regions across the Middle East and Africa, only to find Libya equally dangerous.
Obviously Europe is the safer place to be. But migrants cannot request legal asylum in Europe unless they actually set foot on European soil. This makes them easy prey for well-organized smugglers who offer passage across the Mediterranean – for a price, and on unseaworthy boats.
Italy’s Mare Nostrum marine rescue program, created after more than 350 people drowned off Lampedusa in October 2013, rescued 130,000 people last year. But the program was too costly for Italy to continue, and was replaced in January by the much smaller European Triton border patrol program. Triton’s budget is only one-third what Mare Nostrum’s was, and operates only within 30 nautical miles of Europe’s shores. Fortunately, the Italian coast guard and navy have stepped in and continue to patrol waters near Libya, but they cannot handle the current influx without more help. An astonishing 8,480 migrants were rescued last weekend alone.
You know what wealthy country is on a safe land route from Africa and wouldn’t require a risky boat trip? The only danger facing migrants would be the enormous razor wire fences and the automatic rifle wielding border guards. (I don’t think they’ve deployed land mines. Yet). Still, “Israel’s Duty on Migrants” doesn’t seem to come up much. It would seem like a good test of the conventional wisdom. Let’s try out open borders in Israel and then check back in a generation to find out if it was as crackerjack idea as everybody suggests.
Europe’s border security agency, Frontex, says that between 500,000 and one million migrants are massed in Libya waiting to set forth for Europe, compared to the 170,000 who arrived in Europe by sea last year.
The population of the African continent in 2013 was 1,111,000,000, so one million migrants would be less than one out of a thousand. In other words, there are lots more where those came from. By the way, the UN forecasts that the population of Africa by the end of the century will be nearly four billion.
A simple reform would be to modernize the refugee application system to the 21st Century and run it solely over the Internet. You can apply from your local Internet cafe in your own country, and if you are Einstein, Solzhenitsyn, or Coetzee, you get in. If you aren’t, too bad, stay home. If you show up without your application being already approved, you get a year in a work camp and a one way ticket home.
The current refugee system is like if you showed up at Harvard in person and demanded they let you be a student, so they say, well, we’ll take a couple of semesters to process your application, so in the meantime here’s the Harvard course catalog!