Essay Borders

Pros and Cons of the Border Control

The idea of controlling the border is to keep illegal immigrants from crossing into other countries without documentation. One of the key components in this debate is the border of the United States of America and Mexico. Mexican citizens illegally enter the United States of America without documentation every single day. The Border Patrol is designed to keep this from happening, but it only seems to slow down the illegal immigration of undocumented immigrants. Knowing this information, we will discuss the pros and cons of border control.

The Pros of Border Control

Border control in any country is necessary to help decrease the amount of undocumented immigrants from crossing into another country. It is designed to help catch criminals, refugees, and to avoid war between neighboring countries. The border between the United States of America and Mexico is also designed to prohibit the smuggling of drugs from one country to the other. With the rise of the Mexican drug cartel, the border patrol hopes to reduce the amount of drug smuggling that is corrupting the streets of the United States of America.

There is also the issue of illegal immigrants working in the United States of America while avoiding paying taxes. The border control helps to catch and deport illegal aliens to help relieve the taxes within the United States of America. While illegal immigrants come to America, they obtain government assistance without paying taxes to replace the funds that are depleting at a rapid rate.

The Cons of Border Control

There are some pros to having border control and there are some cons. In many countries, there are terrorist groups, drug cartels, and other groups that pose a threat to the countries regular citizens. These citizens then illegally cross the border in hopes of escaping the horrors they would face if they were caught. These refugees are looking for hope in a country that will protect them, deporting them back to their country puts them back in harm’s way. They could ultimately be in more danger than before they fled.

The border control in all countries has its own reasons. As you can see, there are very good reasons to have border control. On the other hand, there are also cons to having a strict control of the border. Some countries have regulations that grant amnesty to refugees fleeing from terrorist attacks. This is not the case in all countries.

Over lunch in an Alsatian restaurant, André Klein declares that nationalism is the disease and Europe the cure. A kindly man dressed in a round-collared Alsatian tweed jacket, Mr Klein is a native of the town of Colmar, where the cobbled streets are lined with half-timbered houses.

When he was born, in 1938, his home town was in France, as it is today; but for almost half the previous century it had been in Germany, and it soon was again. His first memory is of being dug choking from the rubble after an Allied bomb fell on his house. He was educated at the Ecole Nationale d’Adminstration—ENA—alma mater of many of the republic’s top civil servants and politicians. Though he is too self-effacing to say so, he is a model citizen of the EU. “I am European more than French,” he says. “People here feel deeply that they are European. It is necessary for peace. They and their ancestors have seen too much conflict.”

For much of history his part of the world was a contested borderland. The Rhine, 20km east of Colmar, was the Roman frontier. The town has been part of the Holy Roman Empire and of a league of city states; in the Thirty Years War it was briefly conquered by the Swedes before the Treaty of Westphalia gave it to France. The subsequent centuries of turn and turnabout between Germany and France strengthened people’s regional identity; their links to whichever capital city claimed them at the time never grew that strong.

Now that this borderland finds itself in the heart of Europe, the frontiers barely exist. Not far down the A35 is EuroAirport, serving France, Switzerland and Germany. On a recent Sunday French and German protesters met on the banks of the Rhine to demonstrate in two languages against the nearby nuclear power station at Fessenheim. “Radioaktivität kennt keine Grenzen”, one banner read: radioactivity knows no borders.

One border that is pointedly ignored by subatomic particles lies between France and Switzerland at Meyrin, 300km from Colmar. The mighty accelerators of CERN, a joint European physics laboratory, straddle the frontier there, their beams of protons whirling between the two countries at almost the speed of light. For several years Mr Klein worked as an administrator at CERN. He reminisces about an international meeting at the lab during the cold war. The atmosphere was frosty, but when the chairman took off his jacket and the rest followed, Chinese, Russians, Americans and Europeans were suddenly just physicists. Mr Klein sees no conflict in multiple identities. He is simultaneously a native of Colmar, an Alsatian, a Frenchman and a European.

Marco Zanni often drives past Colmar on his way from Milan to the European Parliament in Strasbourg where, at the age of just 29, he is an MEP for Italy’s Five Star Movement. He, too, sees himself as a European. He studied business in Barcelona alongside people from across Europe. He was an investment banker in Italy. He is polyglot.

But Mr Zanni thinks that the EU—and especially the euro—is driving Europe apart. His father, an engineer who worked for Italcementi, a building-materials multinational, had to delay retirement because of Italy’s pension cuts during the euro crisis. He remembers a Greek student mocking a German classmate in the university in Barcelona, thanking him sarcastically for paying his taxes. The euro zone’s one-size-fits-all regime, he says, means debtors cannot decide their mix of policies. An obsession with austerity is preventing countries from restoring economic growth. The European Central Bank (ECB) is out of anyone’s control. “This is the time to say the euro failed,” Mr Zanni believes. The project is turning “Italians and Germans one against each other.” There is “no community”, he says. “We don’t have a European people.”

Somewhere between the 78-year-old from Alsace and the 29-year-old from Milan, Europe has lost its way. Plenty of people still support the EU, some with passion: young Balts who see it as a path to prosperity and a source of security; Belgians who hope for a way to cope with their divisions; Italians and Romanians who seek a bulwark against their own crooked politicians. But a European identity remains elusive.

When, in 1861, Massimo d’Azeglio, an Italian statesman, said “We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians,” he was outlining what seemed like a reasonable project. Germany was doing much the same with Germans; Britain had done something similar with Britons. But the tools which forged nations in the 19th century—forebears, symbols, cultural achievements—look unacceptably clumsy when used by Brussels today.

The EU created a pantheon of European heroes. Erasmus and Galileo made it, but for some reason Grundtvig and Comenius never caught on. It has something that looks like a flag but which, according to Luuk van Middelaar, a Dutch historian, is officially a “logo”, because the member states balked at flag-hood. It has borrowed an anthem, “The Ode to Joy”, from Beethoven, but it remains a creature of the concert hall rather than the heart.

In 1977 the commission proposed “European Rooms” in museums, but was beaten back by member states. In 1990 “Europe—A History of its Peoples” was published simultaneously in eight languages, laughably depicting Homo erectus as “the first Europeans” and lamenting Europe’s being “outstripped by the Neolithic revolution” in the Middle East in 8000BC. An accompanying textbook caused rancour: the British were upset that Sir Francis Drake, whom they see as a hero for sinking the Spanish Armada, was dismissed as “a pirate”; Germans found accounts of Gaul being raided by “barbarians” from across the Rhine degrading, and had the term replaced by “Germanic tribes”.

For many years such silliness did not matter. After France rejected plans for a European army in 1954, Europe focused on what Mr Van Middelaar calls the “low politics” of tariffs and trade, rather than the high politics of grand strategy. Such an arrangement never needed much support from voters, and those voters did not care that the European project was technical and remote.

But the EU has since entered people’s lives. Mr Delors’s burst of integration began in 1986 with the Single European Act, the first ambitious reworking of the Treaty of Rome. This created a single market, with consumer protection and product regulation. Six years later, the Maastricht treaty, a flawed attempt to deepen the union as a response to the perceived crisis of German unification, provided for an end to the franc, the lira and the escudo. When the eastern countries joined the EU, the rules on freedom of movement brought Polish plumbers and Romanian roofers into everyday contact with Parisians and Londoners.

The EU therefore needed popular legitimacy. One approach to providing it has been to create new political power structures in the hope that political identity would follow. Thus in 2009 the directly elected European Parliament was given the role of adopting EU legislation alongside governments. It also now helps choose the president of the commission.

But a parliament does not produce a people. A survey in 2014, before the most recent elections, found that one in ten Britons could name their MEP in Strasbourg, compared with half who could name their MP in Westminster. Many voters treat elections to the European Parliament as national polls that offer a chance to register a protest against incumbent governments at home. As a result about a third of the institution meant to embody the spirit of European union turns out to be Eurosceptic. At the same time, the parliament knows that most of the clout still lies with the member states. It therefore obsesses about EU process and, as if it were a lobby group rather than a legislature, spends its time campaigning for more powers and bigger budgets. That only makes it more remote.

In 2001 the EU tried to put this right with a constitution to establish the union as a covenant directly between Europeans, rather than a deal stitched up between their governments. The spirit of Philadelphia was never far from the mind of the convention—especially that of its president and would-be Madison, the former president of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.

However the constitution’s 446 articles and 36 supplementary protocols spread over more than 500 pages. In Mr Anderson’s damning judgment, it was “an impenetrable scheme for the redistribution of oligarchic power”. In 2005 voters in the Netherlands and—to the great surprise of their rulers—France roundly rejected it. It was then converted into the Lisbon treaty. Voters in Ireland gave that the thumbs down, too, before being bullied into ratifying it.

The changes that sprung from Maastricht and the creation of the euro could not be justified on the basis that a single European electorate had voted for them: such an electorate didn’t exist. Instead, the EU has had to fall back on what is known as “output legitimacy”—the idea that Europe is justified by results. And it does indeed bring many benefits. Not only peace and markets, but weight in negotiations over such things as trade and climate change and influence in disputes with Iran and Russia, not to mention the automatic right to travel and work abroad.

But output legitimacy fades. Long-standing benefits like peace are soon taken for granted. Governments erode trust in “Brussels” by blaming the EU for decent but unpopular deals that they have signed up to. And output legitimacy is also by its nature weakest when most needed. The time when a system requires propping up is when it is resented—which is when any faith that it is doing good will be at a low ebb.


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