Borders for countries exist for multiple reasons, but the most important of all is the protection of the nation’s sovereignty. Nevertheless, the borders remain open for travel and immigration, and residents of different nations usually pass through with differing levels of freedom of entry. Migrants typically must meet specific requirements to pass the border and stay in the country. In extreme cases, governments have been considering closing their borders. This discussion is complicated by the ethical implications of restricting one’s ability to travel into the state of one’s choosing. The issue of closing borders for migrants is complex, as this process requires significant justification to prevent exclusionism and harm to affected persons. Border closure can be justified only in the rarest cases temporarily, as its long-term outcomes are harmful to migrants and current citizens.
Transnationality and Arising Trends
In the modern world, nation-states face both internal and external challenges. Political tensions have led to most developed countries encountering acts of internal terrorism (Carvalho, 2019). External challenges during the post-Westphalian era implied a direct violation of the sovereignty of the national state and hence its borders (Margulies, 2018). Today, borders are characterized by great transparency and transnationality in current societies covered by globalization processes (Arbel, 2019). People from many countries are welcome to enter other states and stay for a certain period, depending on their reasons and nationality.
This view of one’s ability to migrate presents an ethical issue of which some migrants are deemed more valuable than others. Therefore, some individuals may question whether closing borders to some nations is appropriate to support a higher quality of labor inside the state (Abramitzky et al. 2022; Agadjanian, Oh and Menjívar, 2022). For example, some people describe the arrival of migrants to Europe and the United States as a “crisis,” where immigration is discussed in terms of danger to local citizens (Elcioglu, 2021; Farris and Silber Mohamed, 2018; Harris and Gruenewald, 2018). As people flee from North Africa and the Middle East to the European Union, their presence in European countries is challenged by politicians (Mandal, 2019). Nevertheless, transnationality remains a preferrable view of progressive nations.
Foreign Migrant Communities
The diversity of the implementation of adaptation processes is also facilitated by their specific historical conditionality. Until recently, the ideology and policy of multiculturalism proved to be the most favorable (Álvarez and Urbina, 2018; Blake, 2018). Researchers usually consider the manifestation of culture shock as a normal reaction of migrants, an integral part of the overall process of their socio-cultural adaptation in a non-ethnic environment (Chowdhury, 2020; Kim and Wanta, 2018). It should be noted that most concepts traditionally focus on the negative consequences of cultural shock for various categories of adaptions (Farris and Silber Mohamed, 2018). At the same time, it is possible and necessary to highlight some positive aspects of it for migrants motivated by initial discomfort to internalize new values and models of social behavior.
In some countries, the legislation provides for the periodic renewal of a residence permit or, over time, its replacement with a lifetime one. Only a few foreigners arrive in the country to gain this status. Then after a rather impressive period and after providing additional certificates, they receive citizenship of the country (Del Real, 2022; Lee, 2018). According to statistics, the vast majority of migrants are in the status of “temporary guests” (Collier and Daniel, 2020; Odasso, 2021). Here, the issue of migration is complicated by the fact that this status limits migrants’ ability to work under national labor laws (Cook, 2020; Morales Hernandez and Enriquez, 2021). Therefore, border closure can potentially endanger migrants who are already inside the country if their visa or other documents expire.
Recent Border Closures
In some cases, governments aim to regulate the arrival of migrants using radical measures, such as full closure. The closure of borders and the legality of such events have been the subject of discussion at various levels more than once. For example, Germany and Austria have established temporary control at their internal borders (Hamilton, Patler and Savinar, 2021). Even though these measures contradict the basic idea of the Schengen area, they are allowed in some situations. Thus, according to art. 26 of the Schengen Border Code, a serious threat to public order may be the basis for restoring border control for a period not exceeding six months, with the possibility of extending this period three times (Voynikov, 2019). In the case of border closures in Germany and Austria, the influx of refugees was recognized as a threat to public order.
However, several questions can be considered when discussing this border closure. First, one has to determine which events constitute a risk to the public and how they can be tied to migrants. The eviction of refugees is also of interest to study because there are many cases in the courts regarding the legality of such a measure (González, 2019). In the case of a recently closed French refugee camp, the judges decided that the inadequate sanitary conditions and the threat of public danger justified its closing (Dávila and Doukmak, 2021). Currently, the authorities’ task is explanatory work, which aims to resolve the problem peacefully: refugees need to realize that another residence in the camp is not possible, and they should move to a safer place. In this case, border closure failed to avoid exclusionism and harm, as the government based its decision to deny migrants support on unclearly defined risks of public danger.
Another example of border closures is several countries’ recent chain of decisions to limit the spread of COVID-19. According to Chetail (2020), several countries temporarily limited entry for migrants and tourists to lower the rate at which the virus would spread internationally. In this case, one can argue that complete border closure is justifiable, as it is founded on principles of national safety and disease prevention. However, it should be noted that such measures were deemed ineffective in the long term by the World Health Organization (2020). Thus, the ethics of closing the borders for a long time to prevent infection remain unclear. Moreover, Chetail (2020) argues that such measures also harm migrants as they potentially limit their ability to enter a safe country. It is unclear who potentially benefits from border closure and whether it can be done without supporting exclusionism and harm.
Migrants often face a plethora of issues upon arriving in the country and attempting to integrate into society. Nevertheless, their presence in the country is a part of the multicultural view of the world, and their value should not be diminished based on their place of origin. Border closures in recent years have been based on arguments for safety, but research disagrees with this view. It is necessary to develop a legislative framework on the legal status of refugees with respect for human rights and take into account the opinions of directly affected residents. Regardless of ethnic or confessional identity, every citizen should be guaranteed the opportunity for free and full-fledged social and cultural development.
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