What a Fence Doesn’t Resolve – When Human Rights Crash with Immigration Policy

Many French people cannot remember when the immigration problem started in Calais. This is not a new issue, but sometimes it appears in a sudden way and we are aware because the tension is unbearable or it coincides with other related European matters. We could see in the news, just to bring one random episode as an example, how hundreds of African people were asking to cross the famous fence while a big group of policemen waited on the other side. When the migrants tried to get through, they were attacked with pepper spray – that was the end of the gathering.

But there are more problems with famous fences in Europe or in its gates. Do you know what the most unequal frontier in the world is? It’s between Spain and Morocco, located in two little Spanish cities in the African shore, Ceuta and Melilla. In the last one, there are three different fences guarding the border prepared to prevent “assaults”. In the past, there was a sort of blades and spikes to impede climbing, but the six meters fences are still there. This impregnable wall was built with the intention of blocking migrants from black Africa (beyond the Sahara desert) to set their foot on European territory. The contrast of both worlds is well shown in the picture above (by José Palazón): on one hand, desperate people balancing on top of the fence and, on the other hand, unworried white people playing golf. In fact, this is the most unequal frontier in the world.

After hearing that a new long fence will be built between Hungary and Serbia, we have to wonder if an iron net is going to sort out the complex immigration problems. Whom will be a solution for? Perhaps a fence can be a solution for the receiving country, to stop or delay the arrival of immigrants. But what about the country in the other side of the border? A country which is in a bad economic situation or even in war and is constantly losing a lot of population.

And above all, what about the migrants? In Calais or in Morocco, they live in permanent camps with very poor conditions while they are waiting for the best moment to cross the border. 

Or die trying. Even if you agree with a stronger immigration policy, we have to admit that the priority is not to make human being illegal and leave them facing miserable life conditions. The first thing is behaving as human beings and not as wild enemies.

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