On smuggling and securitization

In a discussion posted to Asylum Corner, Pamela DeLargy made an interesting point about smuggling and securitization —

Asylum Corner: What is your opinion about the EU determination to focus on fighting the smugglers?

Pamela DeLargy: The smugglers are only providing services, there is a demand for their services and they are just offering them. Some smugglers are very bad and exploitative but some others are just providing the services that people request. Why do we think of Oscar Schindler as a good person, or people that smuggled children out of Germany during Second World War, and we call them heroes, but we think of all these smugglers who are bringing Africans and Syrians as bad people?

The fight against the smugglers is a securitization move, and securitization goes hand in hand with the criminalization of the migrants. We have made them into criminals. Because it is “illegal” to come without a visa, and these words have a major impact on the popular imagination, especially since most media boost such ideas. It is a fine line between calling people “illegal” and calling people “criminals”, and it is confused in the average person’s mind.

In general, I think the European countries are facing a big dilemma: Europe as a whole sees itself as the human rights champion, humanitarian champion, champion in women’s rights, and sells that abroad. We are victims of our own marketing. If the British go into Sudan and talk about human rights and the importance of free speech, then they should not be surprised if a bunch of guys from Darfur show up in Calais trying to get into the UK. They do that because they have always been taught that Britain is the beacon of respect for rights. It should be a compliment for the British people that there are people in Calais who want to enter Britain. It should be a compliment to Europe if people come here because this is not only a place of safety but is a place where you can be yourself, where you can educate your children, you can be free. We are the best marketers of freedom but then when people come and say “I wasn’t free and now I want to be free”, then we get confused because we never sincerely promised that. We are very confused, aren’t we?

(bold in original text)