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“By delegating control of its borders to neighboring countries, Europe is encouraging ‘migratory blackmail'”


Chronic. Behind every immigrant, there is an emigrant whose origins shake up the national order of the host country. By going into exile, no human being gives up on their past life, subtly analyzed sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad in The Double Absence (Threshold, 1999). At the collective level, migration does not only concern the countries of destination; they are above all an international reality involving geopolitical power struggles.

Morocco, by suddenly opening its border with the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Monday, May 17, letting some 8,000 of its nationals, often very young, go to the European Union (EU) to put pressure on Madrid over the Sahara Westerners, has shed light on this too often obscured reality: immigration constitutes the ultimate weapon of the countries of the South, an asset in the hands of the weak to put pressure on the powerful. Not only can men be driven from their homes by wars, persecution and poverty, attracted by the enlightenment of well-to-do countries, but they constitute so many pieces on the immense chessboard of diplomatic relations.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Massive entry of migrants into Ceuta deepens diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco

This reality is not new. In 1980, Fidel Castro had embarrassed US President Jimmy Carter by opening the floodgates of emigration at the port of Mariel, causing an uncontrolled influx of migrants, including many delinquents released from prison for the occasion by the authorities. And, for several decades, migratory pressure from Latin American countries has been a central issue in relations between Mexico and the United States and in American political life.

Role of gendarme

In Europe, “migratory blackmail” has taken on a common dimension with the construction of the Schengen area, where free movement has as a corollary the strict control of external borders. Since the 1990s, the European policy of “outsourcing” has consisted in transferring this control to neighboring countries, particularly those of the Maghreb and, more recently, Turkey. The European Union subcontracts to the states bordering it the responsibility of preventing the entry of illegal migrants. In return, it finances surveillance installations, detention centers and coastguards, it grants visa facilities for nationals of the countries in question, demands the signing of agreements obliging them to readmit illegals and toughening of their immigration laws.

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