Razor-sharp barbed wire gleams in unrelenting sunlight. Rows of six meters tall, metal-meshed fencing tear through a dried-out, desert-like landscape. Armed border guards with a proven track-record of brutality are on 24h patrol. Not far away, police officers pose for a photo next to the statue of a fascist mass-murderer that graces a local public square.
This is not some dystopian imagination of the wall Trump wants to build along the Mexican border in the desert badlands of Southern Arizona.
It is the lived reality along the EU‘s “external frontier“ in the city of Melilla, a Spanish colonial exclave on the northern Moroccan Mediterranean coast. Migrants die here, and in the similar, nearby exclave of Ceuta, with tragic regularity; They die of internal bleeding after being allegedly beaten by paramilitary police. They bleed to death after cutting themselves on the barbed wire. They drown after being pursued by rubber-bullet firing cops. They die mysteriously after being potentially hit by gun-fire.
Those who do survive the border crossing face a risk of being summarily deported, without a chance to file their claims for asylum protection. The Council of Europe’s own anti-torture experts have noted the existence of video evidence showing how a man who received eight truncheon blows from Spanish paramilitary police was “handcuffed and carried back to Morocco”; “despite the fact that his body appeared to be inert”.
What goes on in Melilla is no mere case of heavy-handed local mismanagement by Spanish authorities. As award-winning Guardian journalist Nick Davies once put it“ ...the European Union as a body is the power behind the Spanish, funding the production, writing the script, ignoring the casualties, whether physical or legal“.
Melilla is just one small place on the map. But the suffering and the brutality seen there can be found almost everywhere where the EU has an ‘external border’. Across the EU’s deep-blue Mediterranean frontier, in Libya, European political elites are facing questions over their role in supporting detention centers were migrants are reportedly imprisoned, raped and beaten. In Turkey, the EU is stuffing millions into the pockets of dictator Erdogan‘s repressive state, after reaching a ‘refugee deal‘. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the EU has been accused of funding an internment facility for refugees that has been labeled the “Guantanamo of the East” in reference to the allegations of severe mistreatment there.
All this is happening while EU citizens (the author of this article included) enjoy unfettered “free movement” across the continent. As they enjoy those unprecedented, seemingly endless privileges, non-’Europeans’ find their movement ever more restricted by byzantine bureaucracy, brute force or both. This unequal, two-tier migration system is an integral part of the European project.
The EU’s liberal supporters love to criticise US President Donald Trump for his attempted travel ban against the citizens of 7-Muslim majority countries. On this issue, they are absolutely right. Singling out individuals for differential treatment on the sole basis of arbitrary, collectivist criteria such as nationality is a textbook example of prejudice.
The European Union is a block of 28 states. Every single one of these states just so happens to be demographically predominately white and culturally predominantly Christian or post-Christian. The EU’s current membership list fails to include even a single one of the three indisputably geographically European states – Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo – which don’t fit that description. Hmm.
EU citizens’ privileged entitlement to ‘free movement’ is entirely unearned. They receive it simply because they happen to have been born (or granted citizenship) in one of the select few countries allowed into the EU’s highly exclusive club.
Meanwhile the citizens of every single predominantly non-white country on earth – including all of the seven Muslim-majority countries Trump attempted to discriminate against - are being forced to go to the back of the immigration queue. If this is not racism, then what is?
But there is a difference: Whereas Trump has always been crudely transparent about what kind of dog-whistle he wants to blow, the EU has celebrated and whitewashed its own institutional racism, put it on the pedestal of being “progressive” and “liberal”.
Migration policy has a profound, deeply intrusive impact on peoples’ lives. It can make or break careers, relationships and life-long aspirations. Undoubtedly, pragmatic constraints on jobs, resources and infrastructure make it necessary to carefully manage, and yes, restrict immigration. But given what is at stake, it is a moral, human imperative that this is done in the fairest and most compassionate way possible.
Being born in an EU member country is a question of pure chance. It has absolutely no bearing on anyone’s ability of successfully integrating into British society or their likelihood of contributing positively to it. Fluency in English (or Welsh, Gaelic), critical awareness of British culture, possession of skills that are in short-supply in the British economy: Those are relevant, meritocratic, individual factors actually worth considering.
Pan-European identity is a modern political myth, flying in the face of historical fact. There has never been singular European language, or a cohesive, unitary set of ‘European’ cultural traditions. There has never been a politically unified European polity.
A vague, ahistorical sense of identity should not entitle anyone to special preference when it comes to UK immigration rules.
Many people genuinely need shelter in the UK for far more legitimate reasons. They are escaping political persecution, anti-LGBTQ discrimination or brutal civil war. Their human needs, not the politicised paradigms of the EU juggernaught, should be at the heart of our immigration system.
After the Second World War, British fascist leader Oswald Mosley embraced the idea of a “true Union of Europe”. European unification, he reasoned, would be the only way for embattled European elites to maintain imperial power and privileges in a changing world. “We must now”,Mosley wrote, “think, feel, act as Europeans“.
Fortunately, we musn’t. Global trade, individual liberty and universal equality are timeless alternatives to the EU’s morally bankrupt empire of delusion.