Campus Reactions: Are borders necessary?

bordersFollowing Trump’s inflammatory remarks and in the wake of the migrant crisis in Europe, what do you make of borders? Are they justified, humane… necessary? Students around campus give their quick takes:

Open Border Policies are Foolish

A country that cannot maintain the integrity of its own borders and regulate who and what crosses them is—if not already a nonentity—irreversibly trending toward that pathetic end.

This is the danger inherent in misguided “open border” policies that are currently in vogue in many European countries (with Hungary being the notable exception) in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Germany has, seemingly, for reasons known only to Germany, decided to waive UN rules and permit Syrian migrants to apply for asylum regardless of how they arrived. The country initially predicted the arrival of some 800,000 refugees, but officials have now nearly doubled that figure—updating it to 1.5 million—200,000 of whom arrived in September alone. The country has warned that the influx of refugees places an “extreme burden” on local municipalities, impacting the country as a whole.

Does this appear to be a workable solution?

A country has certain obligations to its own citizens first and foremost. If a country cannot provide reasonable levels of peace, security, continuity, and order for its own citizens, it has ceased to perform a role very much proper to and indispensable to its identity as a nation-state.

I understand the arguments from compassion or obligation, but if Western nations execute wrongheaded immigration policies in response to both insistent, but misguided, “moral pressure” and the crush of human misery flowing from that troubled region, then, simply put, they will lose the capacity to provide for their own citizens and the migrants/refugees to boot.

Quality of life will deteriorate across the board, and it will indiscriminately strike native and alien alike. Crime will increase as governments struggle to maintain order under the sheer mass of new people. It is also likely that rage from the xenophobic fringes will burst onto the scene and spill over into politics. We see this with the ascendance of certain nationalist-esque right-wing parties across the EU, whose support for heavy-handed, strict immigration laws and protectionist trade policies, both of which favor native populations, bear a striking resemblance to our own Donald J. Trump.

Absent a cruel tyrant attacking his own people with chemical weapons and being a Russian puppet in a proxy war with the West, there will be precious little to distinguish a Germany from a Syria.

And that will be a sad day indeed.

By Deion Kathawa

Ideas for an Improved Immigration System

As multitudes of families continue to separate every week in America due to deportations, the topic of immigration and borders has become a moral issue.  Should America keep its doors open? Are border officers doing a lousy job at identifying who the productive undocumented citizens are, and who are the criminals? Should amnesty be granted to those who have a proven record of being lawful and contributing to the economy?

As a son of a Mexican-born mother and business owner, and grandson of a Mexican-born, blue-collar grandfather who came here legally, every day is a blessing.  Grandpops came to Detroit during the mid-20th century in search of a decent paying manufacturing job.  Back in those days, Detroit was seen as the promise land for economic opportunity and prosperity: the launchpad for the American dream.  He was able to live the dream in Southwest Detroit, working as a factory worker. This helped him successfully provide for four children, all of whom have worked their way to become successful college graduates and professionals. All of their work ethic, grit, and intelligence motivates me to follow in their footsteps and live my version of the American dream—something my grandfather wanted for all of us here in the United States.

Immigration for my abuelito was not as big of a controversial, political issue during that time period as it is now.  Back then it was much easier for him to settle here legally.  Nowadays, it is exceedingly difficult to go through all the steps for legal citizenship status.  That is why it is imperative that the US fixes its border problem by bringing a clearer path to citizenship that works in the best interest of the current American citizens and those soon to be.  We must secure our border, with walls, fences, and highly-trained patrol officers so that those wishing to cross the border illegally are discouraged, halted, and ultimately brought to justice. 

Numerous undocumented citizens simply overstay their tourist visa. Serious ramifications must be placed on these violators.  Currently, if you overstay your visa, you can be barred from entering the US again at the discretion of the border officer.  Various visa users have taken advantage of this law because it is hard to track down each and every single violator—it’s like a game of hide and seek in a land that is roughly 3.8 million square miles.

Strict repercussions must be implemented and enforced that track down visa users and fine, or jail, them depending on how long they overstay.  Immigration is a wonderful thing, but it really cheats those who wish to come here legally when we have people coming here illegally.  Once immigration reform brings more strict ramifications for violators, it will discourage unlawful behavior and create a more stable American immigration system that encourages legal immigration consistent with the law.  

As for the deportations and family-separations, a form of amnesty must be provided. It is simply far too costly to deport every single father or mother trying to provide a foundation for their children.  If the parent is employed with no criminal record, it would be more advantageous for all of America to allow this person to receive amnesty and become a naturalized citizen. Make this person pay a penalty fine to the US government for violating immigration law, and then have him/her go through a quick, comprehensive process to legal citizenship status.  This way, he or she will eventually be recognized as a legal citizen with documentation, allowing him or her to pay income taxes.

Although this solution looks good on paper, this subject is obviously not that simple.  However, if an American president and congress were to takes strides towards immigration reform that follows this model or something similar, both the president and congress would likely see his or her approval ratings skyrocket.    

Fix the immigration system now.

By Tony Saucedo

Why Borders are Necessary for a Nation-State

Discussing the necessity of border maintenance requires properly understanding the kind of political body. It’s not merely a question of the regime or kind of government (monarchical, aristocratic, or democratic) one has, but what the shape and extension of the thing governed is—specifically, the political form.

Before the modern era, the West knew of two political forms: the empire and city. The empire (like the Roman Empire) is inclusive in its membership, universal for all inhabitants, and can extend without limit. The city (like Rome), instead, is exclusive in membership, intimate in involving all citizens, and local in physical place. The empire consists of all people equal under one sovereign authority, while the city consists of a common identification.

The nation-state combines these forms. All citizens are equal under one sovereign authority (whether democratic, monarchic, or bureaucratic), the state. The state permits a private sphere of voluntary associations and free institutions because it presupposes the existence of the nation.

The nation is how a people concretely identify together in the first-person plural, a “we” rooted in territorial loyalties and social attachments. This active identification is local, intimate, and exclusive since it is specific to those living there. As Pierre Manent notes, “The specific work of the nation is to join and as it were to fuse the brute fact of birth with the free adhesion of the heart and mind.”

The benefit of the nation-state (historically a European innovation circa 1500) is this common cultural identification and civic participation of the city (via the nation) while maintaining all the benefits of empire (via the state).

State maintenance of borders around its people, thus, is a natural requirement for maintaining the nation-state. Maintaining her borders is the empire sustaining her political body. 

By Ryan Shinkel

The Moral Debate on Migration

When watching coverage of the migrant crisis in Europe and the Middle East, images of women and children are seemingly integral to reports on the issue. One may even get the impression from these images that women and children are the majority of those seeking refuge and a better, more stable life.  This obviously appeals to our sense of shared morals. After all, how could you possibly feel comfortable denying these women and children a safe haven?  According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 69% of migrants and refugees entering Europe from Africa and the Middle East are adult males.  Who would have known?

I have become increasingly concerned that the migration debate is being turned into one that pits the morally “correct” against the morally “corrupt”.  Whenever widely shared morals are intertwined into a debate, an opposing stance can be quickly misconstrued as morally corrupt hate speech.  These labels are extremely effective at silencing opposition.  The precarious balance that free and effective debate relies on can be quickly tilted in favor of those on the moral high ground.  With this elevated platform, it is easy to shout down those who disagree.

A particularly egregious example of this took place recently on HBO’s popular political commentary show Last Week Tonight featuring comedian John Oliver.  Not unlike John Stewart on The Daily Show, John Oliver combines comedy and news into one package.  In a roughly 20-minute-long segment on the migrant crisis, Oliver delivered an extremely pro-migration argument which featured a BBC News interview of Noujain Mustaffa. From the clips shown, there is no doubt Noujain is a truly remarkable individual with an amazing story.  Physically disabled and in a wheelchair, Mustaffa is a charming young woman from Syria who speaks tremendous English, a language she taught herself.  At the end of one clip, Mustaffa talks about her aspirations to become an astronaut and meet the Queen (of England, I believe).  The interview clip is an obvious emotional appeal to the viewer and John Oliver capitalizes on this, “I think that girl absolutely deserves to meet…the Queen, and also, if she has time, a real human with feelings”.

Noujain Mustaffa certainly is an extraordinary human, and I hope nothing but good things come her way.  Unfortunately, the very meaning of extraordinary is that she is unlike the rest, to which John Oliver seems to ignore later in his segment.  “Instead of worrying about the hypothetical downside of letting these migrants in, countries should be more worried about the actual downside of turning them away, if for no other reason that you might miss out on someone like Noujain, who seems like she would improve any country that would have her” said Oliver before airing an ABC News interview featuring Noujain where she describes how she taught herself English, “How can you not want this girl in your country!” exclaimed Oliver.

From what is shown of Noujain’s interviews, nothing bad can be said about her, and rightfully so.  However, what can be criticized is John’s use of this remarkable individual to extrapolate some truth about the entire migrant population and those who oppose them.  While some who are against migration choose to attack the character of those entering their country, others are simply concerned about jobs, wages, and population.  Their concerns regard the health of their country, not individual people entering it. However, this distinction within the opposition is ignored, as John Oliver has demonstrated.  Those who oppose migration are seen as a homogenous group of hateful and heartless people.  Their opposition to unchecked migration, is somehow seen as an opposition to people like Noujain.  What an incredibly dangerous and unfair connection.

While my observations on the media coverage of migration and their usage of women and children to elicit a moral response can be seen as anecdotal, John Oliver’s strategy is hard to ignore.  He used one example of one extraordinary young woman in a simultaneous effort to convince viewers that migration is good and those who oppose it are fear mongering and heartless.  Unfortunately, such allegations are enough to demonize even the most moral of those opposed.

By Jason Weaver

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