The Worldwide Migration Crisis: Time for a Serious Discussion about How to Respond

Border_fence_below_El_PasoDonald Trump’s call for completion of the border security fence that was mandated by Congress but, like a lot of other immigration enforcement legislation has never been fully implemented, has been met with the usual derision by the political and media elite.

An effective border fence by itself will not solve America’s illegal immigration crisis, but it is an important component of an overall strategy to address the issue. A border fence is also not a uniquely American idea. Sixty-five security fences are in place along international borders around the world (and even within countries), according a study conducted by the University of Quebec.

In the face of a growing international migration crisis, new ones are going up. Hungary, a gateway for migrants attempting to reach Western Europe from Syria and other war-torn and collapsed societies is working to complete a fence along its border with Serbia. Estonia is building a fence in response to growing instability in neighboring Ukraine.

Some 300,000 migrants have attempted the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean this year. Germany, Europe’s most prosperous nation, is expecting an influx of 800,000 migrants this year alone.

The situation around the world tells us two things: Security fences are an effective (though not perfect) tool for combatting mass, unauthorized migration across international borders. The United States and other Western nation need to develop new strategies in the face of an unprecedented wave of migration. We need security barriers, but they have to be part of a larger plan to deal with a global crisis.

We are in the midst of a presidential campaign, which is a good time for the men and women who are seeking the nation’s highest office to offer up some new ideas for addressing, not merely managing a crisis that seems to grow worse by the day. In the case of the United States, the crisis has been exacerbated by reckless policies that seem to encourage migrants to flood across our borders.

The United States is not alone; almost every Western democracy is grappling (some more successfully than others) with the same issues. It is time for Americans and the media to challenge all of our leaders and prospective leaders to put forth their ideas for address one of the most serious issues of our time instead of just attacking the ideas of their opponents.

About Author


Ira joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 1986 with experience as a journalist, professor of journalism, special assistant to Gov. Richard Lamm (Colorado), and press secretary of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. His columns have appeared in National Review, LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, and more. He is an experienced TV and radio commentator.


  1. avatar

    Here’s an idea: To the best of my knowledge, real refugees do not want to leave their homelands permanently.

    How about we do what other countries in war-torn areas do, and have real “refugee camps” to provide support with the understanding that it’s temporary? When their country is settled down again, the people can go back.

  2. avatar

    It’s hard to believe how uncaring these replies are. How can we sit here in all our luxury while watching the suffering of the rest of the world and not open our doors to them!
    You should all be ashamed.

    And…..don’t give me that “We have to take care of our own people” nonsense. I submit that we can do both if the “haves” would give just a little to the “have nots”.

    • avatar

      You think with your heart and not logic. In case you aren’t aware , unemployment in this nation is the highest it has been since 1978 and wages have fallen. This nation is bankrupt, despite what you believe , we are not in a position to help anyone. Additionally, Americans are being raped, brutalized, murdered and maimed by illegals. Don’t you care about Americans? Don’t you care that millions of Americans are hurting financially? Don’t you care that millions of Americans are out of work? It is you who should be ashamed.

    • avatar
      Not Politically Correct on

      Ah, the tiresome income inequality argument. Works well in theory but not in reality.. I’d rather give some of what I “have” to build a nice big wall from California to Texas.

    • avatar

      Charity begins at home. The idea of this proverb can be found in the Bible. Men who are most quoted as saying this were well versed in the Scriptures. The first letter from Paul to Timothy reads: “But is any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first the show piety at home and to requite their parents for this is good and acceptable before God. (1Timothy 5:4) But if any provide not for his own and specially for their own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)

  3. avatar

    Since 1970, the world’s population has almost doubled from about 4 to 8 billion with marginal increase in natural resource. Most of the explosion has occured in Third World countries which can afford it least. Overpopulation creates instability, shortages and violence as twice as many people scramble for fixed resources. Currently, there is a mass migration occuring to food and welfare offices of America, Europe and Australia.

    America is being invaded from mostly former Spanish colonies who are Catholic and don’t believe in birth control. While they can’t afford to feed one, they have 7 and then complain they are hungrey and whine everyone else to death fo feed, cloth and house them. Europe is being invaded by North African and Middle-East Muslims who hate the Christian west but having destroyed their own countries feel Europe should support and feed them. Australia is being invaded from Pakistan, Afganistan and Indo-China who are fleeing their own self-iinflicted trageties to a western culture they dispise.

    There aren’t a couple hundred thousand, there are BILLIONS on the move. If you wait until completely overrun to close the door, it is already too late.

  4. avatar

    The idea of establishing protecting centers within countries generating would-be migrants seems a good one. However difficult, it is worthwhile to prevent the migration because the shame of a country such as Syria attacking a protecting center could bring worldwide action, even from Iran and Russia.

    However, the rising ocean levels from climate change are going to cause the migration of millions from their homes and activities where based on shorelines, worldwide. It is already causing our U.S. Naval bases enormous concern.

    • avatar

      Not at 1.7 mm/year it’s not. And even that number is questionable. It fell for 2 years around 2011.

  5. avatar

    Take a look at the strides China has been making in improving its border security.

    The Modernization of China’s Border and Coastal Defense Infrastructure
    The Jamestown Foundation –China Brief February 4, 2010 By: Russell Hsiao

    —-Since then (2005) the PLA has reportedly constructed 25,000 kilometers of maritime border patrol tunnels, 7,000 kilometers of fences, and at least 3,000 border demarcations, watchtowers, coastal defense installations, harbors and tarmac as part of this national project. The completion of a sentry post reportedly located in Medog County of the Nyingtri Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)—bordering the disputed Arunachal Pradesh region—late last year apparently marked the completion of a nationwide surveillance system that serves as a component of this colossal infrastructure project. The Chinese media dubbed this network “China’s Digital Great Wall” (Xinhua News Agency, February 2).

    According to a report in the South China Morning Post —a Hong Kong-based newspaper—the completion of the “digital surveillance system” was an integral part of China’s national security strategy and finished at the end of 2009. The number of surveillance sentry posts reportedly number in the thousands, and fiber optic cables were used to connect these posts to 10 control centers. According to the same report, all border patrol stations with more than 100 soldiers have been linked up to this surveillance system (Xinhua News Agency, February 2).

    —-A member of the Committee cited by the official Xinhua News Agency stated that the completion of these installations reflect the development of China’s border and coastal defense from a scattered, single-mission-oriented, incompatible system to a diversified, well-connected, comprehensive system, which serves military, political, economic and social benefits (Xinhua News Agency, February 1).

    —-The system will also reportedly help stem human smuggling, illegal immigration, drugs and other unlawful activities (Xinhua News Agency, February 2).

    • avatar

      We always hear that we can’t afford any of that. Yet our defense budget this year is almost 600 billion dollars. We have troops and bases all over the world, but we can’t defend our own border? Some insist that troops could not be used for that purpose because of the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids US troops from doing law enforcement duties. But that is not what they would be doing because that act refers to doing the things that local and state police should do. If we can’t use troops to defend our border, then what’s the point of an army?

      We need to protect ourselves from the lawlessness of Mexico. Those 43 college students in that country have been missing for almost a year and it’s a guarantee that a lot of people were involved in that and yet they can’t solve that? How long would that be allowed to go on in this country? Plus their top drug lord has escaped their “maximum” security” prisons twice, the last time he was gone for 13 years.

      • avatar

        Both China and Russia use soldiers that are trained and dedicated solely to border defense as border guards. In addition to the argument against using US troops on the border that you mentioned above, I have heard it argued that it does not make sense to use US troops on the border because, for example, the 82nd Airborne or other units are not trained primarily for this type of job but to fight wars.

        Well, that is why both China and Russia use soldiers that are dedicated solely to defending their borders. China and Russia both have a separate branch of their military with generals, etc. dedicated solely to border defense. What we need to do in addition to building walls is create a new branch of the military along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard that is dedicated to border defense.

        We have people from terrorist producing countries coming across our southern border. If we can use soldiers to fight terrorists in foreign countries, why can’t we use them to prevent terrorists from crossing our borders? If we were smart we would learn something from China and Russia, two countries with long borders who are also dealing with Islamic Terrorism.

  6. avatar

    Are we seeing Climate Change driven migrations? If so, then this is long term. They wouln’t ever stop. If it’s due to war, then they will stop when the war concludes.

  7. avatar

    Does it do any good to speak ones mind? It seems like no one listens, especially those in office that are suppose to be doing what is right for this country & it’s citizens. It is obvious these politicians can give a hoot!!

      • avatar

        Syria is a civil war. Basically so is Iraq and the rest of the middle east. Climate change can be a factor in certain places, but most of these situations are just societies at war with themselves. We can’t make up for their failures.