Illegal immigration, also called irregular immigration, is a pertinent phenomenon occurring all across the most developed countries in which immigrants take up or maintain unauthorized residence. Economic vulnerability, political instability, and ecological pressures have been known to drive emigrants to leave the countries of their nationalities and head elsewhere, most often to find work. We cannot deny that this global phenomenon is of special importance to the transatlantic agenda; the European Union and the United States are amongst the largest illegal immigration destinations. Numbers indicate that the EU has between 2 and 4 million unauthorized immigrants; the US has 11 million.
Yet, neither are strangers to immigration. Both have served as major destinations since the middle of the 20th century, but illegal immigration no doubt begs a different approach. Even though illegal immigration levels have seen recent decreases, debates intensify, as economic crises in recipient countries exacerbate the productivity of the market, restricting the availability of state resources and employment opportunities. The solution should be policy-oriented, one that understands the pushes and pulls of immigration and prioritizes human rights and human dignity.
But policymakers remain far from consensus on how reform can be achieved. Over the past decades, various policy programs have been introduced, including tighter internal and external border security and other mechanisms meant to encourage legal immigration rather than illegal. They have, however, only seen partial success.
The purpose of our "Border Policies: Lessons for Improvement" theme week is to explore solutions to this dilemma. Atlantic-community.org calls upon its members to discuss: What policy lessons do the United States and the European Union stand to learn on illegal immigration and what policies will help them to reduce it?
Atlantic-community.org will publish daily articles from experts on both sides of the Atlantic. We count among our distinguished contributors:
- Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou, Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the European University Institute in Italy and Senior Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, praises the EU's controversial Directive 2008/115/EC on common standards and procedures for returning illegal immigrants and prompts the EU to appreciate illegal migration as a possible solution to its demographic needs.
- Annalisa Morticelli, a visiting researcher at Bradford University Faculty of Law, UK, explains that the EU should adopt a cohesive framework on illegal immigration that both recognizes the rights of immigrants and works to improve the economic conditions in their countries of origin.
- Alice Pannier, a post-graduate student at the at Université Paris 1, examines the disconnect in the rhetoric of the EU's border policies and particularly the problems presented as Spain interprets and enacts these policies.
- Elizabeth Collett, Director of Migration Policy Institute Europe, suggests that Europe should approach return and regularization policies understanding the tools at its disposal.
- Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., explains why in addition to creating disincentives for illegal immigration, incentives to encourage legal immigration must be put in place.
- Dr. Franck Duvell, a senior researcher at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford, UK, claims that the EU fares better at reducing irregular migration than the US and should continue policies of regularization.
- Dr. Bastian Vollmer, a researcher at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford, UK, writes on the heightened politicization of immigration policies and the need for future policies to abandon such discourse.
As always, we invite all Atlantic Community members to make comments on these articles and on any issue bearing on the topic of illegal immigration. At the end of the "Border Policies: Lessons for Improvement" theme week we will present an Atlantic Memo bringing together the best policy recommendations from your articles and comments. We encourage you to make use of this opportunity to contribute fresh ideas and make an impact on this urgent transatlantic debate.
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