LONDON – Both in the US and in Europe, there are major political conflicts over immigration and refugees. While the collisions on the surface may look similar and actually have much in common, they also differ in a subtle yet decisive way.
A direct comparison suggests that the conflicts are sometimes immigration, often linked to race and ethnic identity – or to simple politics.
Why is the issue of migrants now flaring up?
What is similar between the US and Europe: Despite the urgent tone on both sides of the Atlantic, renewed calls to control illegal immigration are not tied to actual floods at the borders.
In the United States, border crossings have been low for years, and in Europe they are now much lower than at the height of the refugee crisis a few years ago. Rather, the refugee crisis is a backlash against migrants and refugees and the political struggles and extreme policies that have been triggered.
The anger, research suggests, stems less from migration-specific than from a broader fear of social change. When people feel threatened or losing control, they sometimes become more tied to ethnic and national identities.
For some people, antipathy is explicitly racist. But for many others, the very fact of cultural change itself can be disturbing. Immigration, unauthorized or otherwise, is just one of the changes that cause a sense of loss of control. Economic upheavals, changes in social hierarchies and demographic change can all have the same effect.
But when asylum seekers arrive without a permit or warning, this can increase the feeling of fear by forming the border – perhaps the most obvious symbol of national identity and territorial protection seems weak.
On both sides of the Atlantic, migrants and asylum seekers are a symbol of many voters that the political establishment does not protect them and their interests.
What's different: In the United States, where the federal government has centralized immigration policy, President Trump has been able to implement the anti-migrant backlash into politics, including through the separation of families from the country Border (19459014) European Union, which has 28 member states, the crisis is more complex, touching on the need for the political unity of the bloc. There is also a challenge to address the status of migrants and refugees not only at the external borders where they arrive, but also within Europe after crossing a border.
There is a deep conflict over what European policy should be between a few fronts – countries like Italy, which are seen as an unreasonable burden by migrants after crossing the Mediterranean, and countries such as Hungary and Germany, which strongly resist it to accept additional asylum seekers.
Why is the problem so difficult to solve? 19659004] Similar: Efforts to "solve" "unauthorized" border crossings have revealed a key political contradiction: US and EU law require refugees to apply for asylum, no matter how many arrive. But migration policy requires a certain limit on their numbers.
The only way to resolve this contradiction without violating the law – its letter, if not its spirit – is to prevent people from arresting or stopping them
There is also a contradiction between old ones Ideas of national identity rooted in established demographics and a modern world in which international migration is more possible than ever.
But because public demand for harsh immigration policy is often driven by a wide range of social changes and issues, and not only migrants, whatever their policies are implemented, can never satisfy those who demanded them.
Mr. Trump went further last week demanding that immigrants be denied due process. This "long and complicated legal process," he said on Twitter, "is not the way to go." Instead, he said, "People simply have to be stopped at the border and told that they can not come to the US illegally." At the moment, the president does not seem to make a real political proposal.
European leaders have been more cautious in their public statements, but have also pursued policies that discourage asylum applications by making the crossing too dangerous or impossible for migrants to try. They have worked with the governments of Sudan and Libya, despite evidence of serious human rights violations in these countries.
Where does the crisis lead to migrants?
Similar: For Both Migrants and Refugees When people think that they are more exposed to dangers and difficulties in their home countries than elsewhere, many will move to new countries. Neither the United States nor Europe seem to have focused on facilitating the crises in Central America, the Middle East, and other areas where people flee. The measures designed to deter new arrivals are likely to only exacerbate the dangers to migrants.
What is different: Political and geographical differences between the United States and Europe mean that the nature of this distress and what groups of migrants are at greatest risk will be different.
Those traveling to Europe face a growing risk of being affected in countries like Libya or Sudan, which have agreed with Europe to curb migration. These governments or militias working with them have caused tremendous suffering to migrants. Some migrants are reportedly even sold as slaves.
But because the abuses are happening far away from European soil and are not directly committed by European officials, they are easily ignorable to the public.
The Wandertrek In the United States it is also dangerous, but the Mexican government is less willing to go to Libyan extremes. The likely winner of the Mexican presidential election next month said he would not cooperate with the United States to cut the migration routes.
Unlike in Europe, the United States must therefore carry out much of its own border management and deterrence policy
The Trump government has, intentionally or otherwise, pushed through the limits of American tolerance for extreme border control, for example by separating the border Parents of their children. This policy has attracted public attention and has become a hotbed of political conflict.
Which future will you choose?
Similar: Both Europe and the US are facing a particularly sharp election that has divided their population for decades: what kind of society do they want to be? Do they want to be immigrant nations with a continuous demographic and cultural change? Or do you want to keep your national identities?
The question is divisive, so that both American and European leaders have long sought compromises that do not completely resolve the issue. But that has incinerated contradictions in their immigration systems that make repeated controversies inevitable – and it's not clear if this can go on indefinitely.
As immigration and different birth rates make countries less white, this conflict over national identity increasingly divides the politics United States and Europe
What is different: This policy is very much in the two systems different and puts a lot of strain on them.
In the United States, most voters are more tolerant of immigration, but a dedicated minority calls for more and more borders for immigration in all its forms. Because this minority declares the issue a top priority, it has considerable power over politics.
The American two-party system means that the issue has polarized voters. Both sides see the core character of the United States as endangered to be destroyed. This feeling of existential zero-sum conflict can lead people to believe that extreme action is justified in order to prevent victory for the other side and undermine democratic norms.
Europe's political crisis looks different. Like the responsible for the crisis Chancellor Angela Merkel also threaten to lose power. Populist leaders who promise to reverse the status quo win.
This puts the European Union in danger.
At the moment, the bloc does not have the power to redistribute the asylum obligations to relieve pressure from the border countries like Italy and Greece. This would require new powers or the approval of all Member States, but given the frustration and fear of migration, there is little public support.
It is possible that the United States and the European Union could each find immigration policies only palatable enough to forestall a major political meltdown. But that will not solve the fundamental question of what place immigrants have in American and European societies. It is more polarizing than it has been for years.