Few question the right of states to control the movement of people in and out of their borders, a fact which merely underlines how pervasively the paradigm of foreignness shapes our thinking.
As Joseph Carens argues: “Borders have guards and guards have guns … Perhaps borders and guns can be justified as a way of keeping out criminals, subversives, or armed invaders. But most of those trying to get in are not like that. They are ordinary peaceful people seeking only the opportunity to build decent, secure lives for themselves and their families. On what moral grounds can these sorts of people be kept out? What gives anyone the right to point guns at them.”
It is difficult to justify the use of force against such people who are simply seeking to realise their human rights: human rights which international law and well as moral reasoning guarantees them.
It is a scenario which results directly and indirectly in death in places such as the sea approaches to Europe, Australia and the United States and the land boundary between Mexico and the United States as well as on other migration routes.
As of December 2012, United for Intercultural Action had documented the death of 17306 immigrants and refugees who died seeking entry to “Fortress Europe” or as a result of migration policies. A map they have produced appears below.
Border Angels estimates that more than 5000 people have died crossing the US-Mexico border since 1994.
Since 2000, we estimate 1952 men, women and children have died seeking to enter Australia or in migration/refugee detention centres in Australia or the approaches to Australia. In one incident in 2001, 353 men women and children died trying to cross the sea between Indonesia and Australia on a boat labelled “SIEVX” by Australian authorities.
In 2007 Yemen reported more than 1400 dead and missing while attempting to reach its shores from Africa.
In 2008 Human Rights Watch reported the death of at least 32 African migrants shot by Egyptian border guards while attempting to cross into Israel.
The mounting death toll at borders around the world demonstrates that such fortress style policies are ethically unsustainable.
Walls of Shame – US/Mexico
Walls of Shame – Spain/Morocco
Let them In: The Case for Open Borders: Jason L. Riley