Border Security and National Sovereignty

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Since yesterday, a number of media outlets have reported that the Trump Administration is strongly considering a plan to close the southern border with Mexico as a measure to prevent members of the Central American migrant caravan from crossing into the United States. According to the New York Times, the plan calls for broad executive action on the part of the president aimed at fortifying the southern US border with additional troops, and denying asylum requests by Central Americans for a period of time. Whether or not this plan becomes reality remains to be seen. If it does, a number of challenges will likely be filed against it in US courts. The saga of the migrant caravan comes with less than two weeks remaining until the US midterm elections. This has been a raucous political season in the United States, and both Democrats and Republicans are both using the caravan to gain leverage over the other.

Unfortunately for Democrats, the president is fully within his rights to shut the southern border if he deems it necessary to protect the United States from an external threat and the migrant caravan falls into this category. The organizers and leaders of the caravan have plainly stated their intentions to force entry onto US soil. In essence, they’ve declared war on the US and turned their humanitarian pilgrimage into an invasion force. President Trump cannot, and will not allow them to enter the United States.

Border security is central to national sovereignty. The ability of a nation-state to remain both politically stable, and internationally reliable, is jeopardized the moment its borders become porous. The European Migrant Crisis produced numerous examples of this, having eroded the sovereignty of numerous European nation-states, and of the European Union as well. The after-effects of that crisis continue to be felt across the continent.

The US doesn’t appear likely to make the same mistakes that Brussels, and Berlin have. The Trump administration has made border security a priority since the beginning. Progress on building a wall on the southern border has been hampered by opposition efforts, and congressional infighting, however. It is not secret that President Trump has been frustrated by his inability to firmly gain control of the border. This caravan, and the crisis surrounding it, presents him with the opportunity to turn reverse these fortunes. The United States needs a secure southern border as much as it does strong leadership in Washington.

Tuesday 3 July, 2018 Update: Merkel On A Highwire

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Another day, another dent in Germany’s frail governing coalition. With her back against the wall, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has reversed her open-door migrant policy in order to rescue her coalition from dissolving permanently. She reached the compromise with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer after he threatened to resign, a move that would have likely splintered Merkel’s coalition for good. The agreement Merkel hammered out at the EU summit in Brussels last week did not satisfy Seehofer. He continued to press ahead with his threat to resign, pushing Merkel to the brink. When all is said and done, it could be that Seehofer may have overplayed his hand. Whether or not that is the case, it is clear that his political rebellion exposed the increasingly vulnerable chancellor to future attacks. There is blood in the water in Berlin.

The compromise agreed to by Seehofer and Merkel revolves around opening transit centers on the German-Austrian border. Migrants seeking to enter Germany will be held there until a decision is reached on their asylum status. If they are ultimately denied entry, they will be deported to the EU nation they originally registered in.

Before the compromise deal becomes reality, Merkel has to convince the Social Democrats (SPD) to support it. This will not be easy. SPD chairwoman Andrea Nahles did welcome the deal, though she also stated that her party members have a number of questions on the details. At the peak of the European Migrant Crisis in 2015-16, SPD rejected the notion of transit centers on the border. Granted, the domestic political situation is strikingly different now, however, this time around there could still be some significant resistance to the idea of transit centers from SPD members.

In short, Merkel is not out of the woods yet. Her precarious balancing act atop a highwire has worked so far. Yet the longer it goes on, the chances that a single misstep will bring the coalition, and Merkel down, increase dramatically with each passing day.

Saturday 30 June, 2018 Update: EU Migration Deal Saves Merkel….For Now

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The European Union’s 28 national leaders hammered out an eleventh hour deal on migration after twelve hours of talks. The deal,  though somewhat vague, appears to be enough to appease German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rivals and keep her fragile coalition government in power for the time being.

The deal proposes screening potential asylum-seekers for their eligibility before they reach EU soil. Middle Eastern and North African nations that agree to set up screening centers will be granted EU financial aid to cover the costs. EU Leaders also agreed to toughen internal checks to prevent asylum-seekers from freely choosing an EU nation to apply for asylum. 3 Billion euros will also be paid to Turkey as part of the 2016 compensation deal with the Turkish government to pay for Ankara’s efforts at keeping migrants away from Europe.

The EU deal is less than perfect, though it does promote more stringent future efforts on the part of the union to contend with irregular migration from the Middle East and North Africa. Many questions remain unanswered, such as the timetable for implementation. How quickly the terms of the deal can be become reality will influence Merkel’s own political fortunes.

For now, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and his allies appear to be satisfied with the EU deal, and what it will do to help correct Germany’s asylum policy woes. If there are any delays, or disruptions in implementing the deal, however, Merkel could pay a steep price. Seehofer still has to sell the deal to his party, the Christian Social Union. CSU will face a heavy challenge from the far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party in the coming October state election in Bavaria. If the party deems this deal to be ‘too little, too late’ Seehofer himself might be replaced as party head. The rumor mill in Berlin points to Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder as the next chairman if Seehofer falters.

If that scenario becomes reality, the CSU could bring Merkel’s brittle coalition government crashing down.

Thursday 28 June, 2018 Update: May Expected to Face Heavy Pressure at EU Summit

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With time running out for a withdrawal agreement to be reached between Britain and the European Union, apprehension is rising in Brussels, and capital cities across Europe. Negotiations between Theresa May’s government and the EU appear to be going nowhere. The prospect of a no-deal Brexit being the end result continues to haunt both sides. A number of EU leaders have begun contingency planning, and serious preparation in case a no-deal Brexit becomes reality and Britain crashes out of the EU. National leaders are expected to begin ratcheting up the pressure on May, and emphasize that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for businesses in Britain, and in the EU alike. A preview of the line EU leaders will take with May was offered in Copenhagen on Wednesday. Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, informed his parliament: “It is the first time we are saying clearly to the British that we can end, in the worst scenario, with no deal.”

Tomorrow night, May will speak at a dinner in Brussels as the EU Summit opens. She is expected to outline the intentions of the British government in the coming weeks regarding negotiations. There has been little progress made on key issues such as the Irish Border question, and the future of Gibraltar. Dissention in May’s cabinet has not helped matters at all. She is convening a meeting of her ministers at Chequers on Friday and the hope is that some sort of agreement can be reached.

For the EU, Brexit will be overshadowed by migration. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political fate could very well be decided at the upcoming summit. Failure to reach some type of agreement with other nations on migrants runs the risk of toppling the precarious German government.

It could very well end up being to May’s favor that the focus of Merkel, and other EU leaders is  firmly fixed on the migration crisis, and not Brexit. Should this turn out to be the case, it will give May some much-needed time to get Britain’s ducks in a row before negotiations on Brexit resume in the future.