Sitting here in a coffee shop under one of the most prestigious libraries in the country, in one of the most prestigious universities on planet, I cannot even begin to fathom the hardships and motivations that drive the countless thousands of migrants that try each year to cross into Spanish holdings in Morocco. I try to think; five years of my life, each one spent doing something productive, each one filled with wonderful memories, each one a blessing. 5 years is a quarter of my life, and this is the same amount of time that many of the migrants trapped in Morocco spend waiting to eventually pass into Europe. Unlike my blissful 5 years, the time that these migrants endure is burdensome and rife with complications, both physical and psychological. It would be wrong for me to even attempt to express a shared experience on any ground with them, it would be wrong down to a fundamentally moral level.
It was heartbreaking to read the Crossing. As I went through the details surrounding the young men trapped in essentially bureaucratic purgatory I was given a taste of the sweet visions they had of life in Europe which allowed them to continue and endure. Many expressed a sincere belief that if they could just cross over and get into the EU, they could make new lives for themselves and their families. They believed that all that stood between them and success was a huge barbed wire fence. It was stories like that of Beni, a boy who is no older than one of my younger sisters, that really pulled at my heart strings. How is it possible that the international community can allow children to survive off garbage and loiter in an endless cycle of month-long malaise punctuated only with the occasional beatings from overzealous Moroccan police enforcers and daring runs for a fortified border that end for the majority in bruises and shame as they are returned back to the hidden camps they erected in the woods surrounding the Spanish holdings.
The story itself is very sad, and if it is read empathetically provides quite the proverbial punch to the reader. But for me what is sadder is not the state in which the migrants wait in limbo to enter the EU, what saddens me far more is the cold hard reality of what awaits them if they were to enter the Union. The Union is already beginning to buckle under the strain of the migrant crisis, and although it pains a humanitarian to say it there will have to come a point where the EU can no longer physically sustain such a heavy load of migrants. The economies of the EU are in decline, their manufacturing sectors having long been lost to the US and now increasingly eastern economies such as China. Without a strong manufacturing base, the EU is now largely a collection of service based economies, and while they may have grown in productivity in recent years they are increasingly shrinking in their need for actual labor as the digital age we enter increases outsourcing, efficiency, and automation of the workforce. This means that even the native European population now struggles to find work, and if the native population has difficulty acquiring jobs one can be certain that the prospects for work available to under skilled migrants are even less so.
Indeed, it could be argued that a savvy migrant’s best bet for productive employment would be to utilize the free travel offered in the Schengen agreement to head to Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, and find a niche they might be able to fill in what may be the economy with the most potential on the continent. But even there the situation is becoming increasingly tense. Despite Germany’s recent openness to immigrants, it has not been impervious to the reactionary movements that have spread across Europe in response to the perceived threat of globalism and terrorism many associate with the migrant crisis. Regardless of the validity of these claims, the voting and policy decisions of the people who are embracing them remain clear, The Alternative for Germany Party made significant gains in the 2017 federal elections over all other opposition on a populist platform of curbing immigration and increasing Euroscepticism. Such results in elections for local governments and even representitatives to the EU’s legislative body are becoming more and more common. If present trends continue moving forward into the coming decade I must pessimistically say that those trapped in Morocco such as Beni will increasingly find it harder and harder to enter their destination countries, and when they finally do they will find a Union that is far less receptive than it once was to their presence and less inclined to offering them the work and security they originally desired as they fled, partially out of an increasing xenophobia and partially from a very really drought of work already available to the current population. Perhaps even more depressing, I believe that the immigration communities in states bordering the EU will continue to grow as a combination of climate change and civil strife push ever more people to search for a better life in place which increasingly may become less willing and less able to offer it to them.