Guest Author: Jaroslava Rudavska*
Recently, I attended a student conference on Migration, Human Rights and Security in Europe. Although I have a long standing interest in migration, refugee and asylum, the security part was a new area for me to explore.
As preparation for the conference I did a bit of research and some reading to understand the Security and Securitization of migration discourse. The more I read about Security and Securitization the more I thought of its absurdity, not because it was absurd, but because it revealed an unkind side of human nature.
Firstly, since the 1980s it has been strongly implied that migration has destabilizing effects on domestic integration and secondly that migration presents dangers to public order. Therefore, society must be protected and the migrants must be secured. Who is it exactly we are protecting and from whom? And what is it exactly we are trying to protect (or hide)? The answer seems to be the obvious one; we are protecting our national identities, welfare provisions and infrastructures (which were most likely built by immigrants). This however, doesn’t explain why in order to protect all of this we have to secure migration, build detention centres for asylum seekers and politicize migrants by criminalizing them and connecting them to the threat of terrorism.
Those involved in terrorist attacks in 2005 in London, the Hamburg cell involved in 9/11 attacks and the man charged in the recent Toulouse killings were mainly home born and bred jihadists and converts. In the case of the Toulouse killings a young French national of Algerian origin went on a killing spree targeting French army personnel of North African origin who served in Afghanistan. This fact was overlooked by Miss Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front who in response launched into an anti-Islamic campaign, muddling counter-terrorism and security with immigration. No wonder integration, multiculturalism, and assimilation have all failed miserably.
How could they not fail when we are not prepared to give immigrants a decent chance to re-build their lives and give it their best shot. Yes there are issues with language barriers and possibly cultural differences but this could be solved if there is a drive for success from both sides. And yes, immigrants do weigh up potential benefits of integration against staying put in their new immigrant communities where they understand the language and to them it seems to be the devil they know. There is also an element of path dependency present; meaning that if a migrant comes from a poor deprived background it is highly likely that he or she will find himself/herself in a very similar scenario and is likely to be exploited by their new immigrant community. This represents a catch-22 conundrum, solving of which would require extensive input from the community leaders, local councils and the individuals themselves.
It seems that in order to become a valid member, a true citizen of a western society, one would already have to be born into that society and the outsiders are treated less as prospective citizens but rather as unwanted migrants. That is unless you are a high skilled professional in a certain field, which western society is lacking and you are being ‘honeyed in’ with a lucrative package including generous rights such as residency for you and your family, a response to a recruitment competition from outside of Europe.
Irrationality, it seems, is the key to understanding the western fear of immigration. What we really fear are not the migrants coming in and taking our jobs and our women (a common response from the natives and media) but we fear people who are different from us.
We are conditioned by the fear of the unknown coupled with our own insecurities and a feeling of superiority which often translate to racism.
*Jaroslava Rudavska is MSc in EU Politics and Policy.