THE DANGER OF "BORDER CONTROL" MENTALITY
By Anushki Bodhinayake, BA (Hons), Reporting from Toronto
The media and government officials are constantly giving us the impression that threats to our national security originate from the lack of strict border controls. We are urged to increase funding for the military in order to protect us against "terrorists and other criminals." We are also urged to install high steel fences, razor wire, flooded tunnels and armed helicopters, all in the name of national security. Certainly, some of these precautions may be necessary; however, what cannot be ignored is the impact of such boarder control mentalities on those deemed "foreigners."
Border control mentality encourages us to essentially fear "foreigners" outside and within the nation. In addressing the problem as one of "national security," we are left with a subtle (thought sometimes not so subtle) impression of who "belongs" and who does not. This inevitably gives rise to racist ideas and irrational fear of those who are deemed "outsiders." Let's face it, when you think of the word "terrorist", which ethnic group immediately comes to mind? In addition, border control language gives us the impression nothing and no one within the boarders of the national state threaten us. We are told that the problem is not the massive increase in military budgets at the expense of health, educational and social programs, nor is it the unrestrained power of national states that continue that continue to inhibit the improvement of minority groups and poverty stricken. However, it is the very governments and corporations who tell us our biggest fear is "foreigners" who are the ones responsible for creating the largest global crisis in people's displacement and subsequent international migration in the first place.
The worldwide crisis of displacement is caused by unparalleled levels of unemployment, by the destruction of rural livelihoods and by mega-development. This crisis of displacement is producing a worldwide crisis of migration. Yet the same governments and corporations that have helped to fuel this problem of poverty and insecurity tell us that the people they have displaced and dislocated who the cause of insecurity- that the people who have been robbed of their lands and livelihoods are "terrorists." In this way, they shift the responsibility for making people insecure onto the bodies of individuals labeled "migrants."
Everywhere in the world today, migrants are being targeted as "security treats." In the UK, the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns reports that "arbitrary detention, dispersal, vouchers, deportations, self harm, suicides and racist attacks are all part of the daily life of asylum seekers." In the US, the detention of migrants is one of the fasters growing contributors to the prison-industrial complex. Meanwhile, governments and corporations profit from the global crises of displacement and migration. The only thing that restrictive immigration policies restrict is the number of people given legalized status in any given country- not the number of people migrating. Employers demand vulnerable people and national immigration policies operate to meet this demand for cheap labour. What more efficient way to make workers vulnerable than to render them "illegal" or a "potential treat within?"
In light of tragic events like "9/11" attacks on the World
Trade Center, it is clear that terrorism is a legitimate concern. However,
we must be extremely cautious in determining who exactly constitutes
the real "terrorists." Similarly, we should be aware of the
plight of those individuals forced to migrate at the hands of corrupt
governments and corporations.
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