Not long ago, I saw an interview with the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, where she argued about what she believed to be the “solution” to illegal immigration. Meloni – who inherited the leadership of a country that serves as a prime hotspot for illegal immigration– argued that the solution to the migrant crisis was not embracing a full open door policy, but liberating the African continent from European manipulation that triggers internal conflict. She pointed out the ways through which Europe meddles in African economics and politics, thus stimulating internal division and civilian displacement, and described illegal immigration as an unsustainable and unfinanced “solution” to a problem with immense root causes. In other words, Giorgia Meloni argued that attempting to fully embrace an open door policy to illegal migrants while actively ignoring, contributing, and refusing to tackle the root causes will not lead to a sustainable future.
In reality, most European nations not only refuse to send help to countries prone to massive influxes of migrants, but they actually contribute to the problem. Several human trafficking gangs and people smugglers are European and/or flourish on a European social network. Furthermore, Europe is engaged in the political scene of many African nations, such as Libya, and has been accused on several occasions of forging an agenda in these areas aimed to promote European development and progress. Even historically, understanding many current developments in today's Africa requires a look at the internal divisions generated by Europe. As a result of these, war has erupted in several African regions, forcing people to flee to neighboring nations.
Regardless of how much they are to blame for the current problem, Europe has failed these people by refusing to offer more help to migrant hotspots. After all, usual European destinations for migrants, such as Italy and Spain, lack the administrative structures and financial strength to support huge influxes of people without outside aid. As a result, migrants must not only flee an uninhabitable home, but also live in an area that provides no economic, social, or personal security. Similarly, international institutions dominated by European voices have been unable to provide a viable solution to the situation. Refugee camps have proven to be a complete failure, legal services for illegal immigrants have deteriorated or never existed in the first place, and the international community has made little effort to address Africa's regional concerns.
Another thing Meloni accurately identified is that migrant influx will rise, and few nations have the frameworks, economies, and institutions in place to fully embrace an open-door policy. After all, we are experiencing historic increases in migration rates as a result of the rise of disruptive technology. Looking back, no country has ever had the time to modify its systems to accommodate such significant influxes of migrants, putting the feasibility of a totally open-door policy in jeopardy.
Indeed, the world population has surpassed 8 billion people, 13% of whom reside in Africa, and with armed conflict occurring in nearly half of the country (the majority of which can be attributed to colonialism and its effects), migrant influxes are certain to skyrocket.
I want to be clear that this post is not intended to encourage all aspects of anti-immigrant discourse, particularly those based on racism, bigotry, and xenophobia. This is likewise not meant to express support for Meloni; rather, it is a highlight of the language used by a politician to respond to a typically contentious subject. What was surprising about Meloni's reaction was her decision to diverge from the mainstream narrative about immigration, which instills feelings of superiority and divisiveness. Instead, she confronts illegal immigration for what it is: the result of a centuries-long oppressive connection between European powers and the African continent, which would only worsen if left unchecked.
Illustration by Madison Wright