All people, regardless of race, culture, or identity, strive to be free.
Free from the chaotic state of nature, where injustice reigns supreme, and free to live by their own ideals without fear of unjustified restraint. That is the essence behind “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” our natural, unalienable rights granted to us all at birth.
But for many people around the world, their freedom to act upon those rights is repressed. Be it from poor leadership, corruption, or conflict, the failure of states imposes the struggle for freedom.
Look at Syria, which faces all three of these conditions. People there are struggling just to survive, let alone live by their own ideals.
The country has been in a state of civil war since 2011 when president Bashar al-Assad ordered the military to fire on protesters during the Arab Spring.
As a result, Syria has fallen into complete chaos while Assad’s regime battles an unstable array of oppositional forces – many of which have expanded the war through inter-rebel conflict.
All of this leaves the Syrian people caught in the crossfire as they desperately try to endure through the civil and economic collapse of their homeland.
When the foremost thoughts of a people are, “Will my home still be there when I return? How can I protect my family? Am I going to be killed today?” they simply cannot be free.
Which is precisely why so many have tried to liberate themselves from these chaotic states. And who can blame them? It’s humanity’s innermost desire after survival to be free.
Yet, to just willingly accept their exodus is to turn a blind eye to the impasse it creates for the countries they try to enter.
While every good-hearted person wants to help these poor souls, the bridges we have available for them to cross are simply not strong enough to withstand the pressures of mass migration.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, total asylum-seekers across the world have tripled from 1 million in 2011 to 3 million in 2015.
Europe, which has taken the brunt of this crisis, was simply not prepared for so many people. Countries such as Germany, which began with open arms for the refugees, are now pressuring the rest of the EU to take in those they can no longer handle.
And while the EU tries to cope with deficient immigration policies, millions of migrants remain stuck at the border, praying for an asylum that may never come.
President Donald Trump seeks to avoid a situation like that through strict immigration policy. In a recent tweet, he threatened to deploy the U.S. military to “shut down our southern border” in response to an incoming migrant caravan from Central America.
His ultimate goal is to build a wall spanning the entirety of the U.S./Mexico border, polar opposite to the theoretical bridges of Europe, which inevitably encouraged mass migration there.
But the problem with a wall is it won’t solve the underlying issues compelling people to emigrate in the first place – their lack of freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness back home.
It’s a bit hard to do that when the local cartel is more powerful than the entire government. So until things improve down there, people will just keep trying to come up here, wall or no wall.
The migrant crisis we face today cannot be solved by walls or bridges. It has to be dealt with through diplomacy and peace-building. The entire free world must come together and devise plans to fix those broken states that are the root source of every migrant’s plight.
Because in the greater sense of humanity, the migrant’s struggle for freedom is the world’s struggle for peace.