Bombings and other terrorist attacks are now a common feature of life in modern Europe. On just one day (September 15, 2017), an improvised explosive device was placed on a London Underground train, a man wielding a knife and shouting “Allah” attacked a soldier in Paris, and a man with a hammer shouting “Allahu Akbar” badly wounded two women in Lyon. As the former Prime Minister of France and the present Mayor of London have put it, perhaps this is all just a price we have to pay for living in big cities in Europe in the 21st century: we have traffic congestion, great restaurants and terrorist attacks.
Of course, the public are all the time worrying about other things — not just whether all this is just a taste of something worse to come, but whether anything might be done to stop it. While our political leaders continue to view this as a narrow security-related question, the public can see that it is also a border-security and mass-immigration issue. Across the continent, poll after poll shows the European public continuously calling for migration into Europe to be slowed down. This plea is not due to some atavistic urge or distasteful racist instinct, but something that the public seems to intuit better than their politicians — which is that if you do not have control of your borders, with a meaningful set of immigration laws and the right to keep people out of your country then you do not really have a country.
Since the upsurge in Europe’s migration crisis in 2015, when Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel unilaterally decided to suspend normal border checks and turn an already existing flow of migrants into a tidal wave, politicians and the public have divided from each other over this issue. While the public want their representatives to control their borders, politicians seem to see only political capital in running the other way. In part this is because there appears to be some kind of “bonus” to be achieved by looking welcoming and kindly in contrast to the unwelcoming and mean things that borders now appear to represent.
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