It seems that every country in the world has a problem with illegal immigrants, particularly those countries with a higher standard of living. Certainly there are legitimate refugees who are forced out of their own country by war or repression, but the vast majority of the emigrants are economically driven.
Currently the worst refugee problem in the world is that in Syria, where it is estimated that there are 4 million people living in camps in the surrounding countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. In addition there are estimated to be ca. 5 million internally displaced people. António Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, who is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at a conference on the plight of refugees in the Middle East, stated that there are altogether a total of ca. 15 million refugees in Syria and Iraq. He appealed to the international community to do more to help them, but little help is anticipated.
All of these refugees are adding to the flood of migrants that are seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Italy and beyond. They are mainly leaving from Libya, that is itself in chaos, together with a mixture of sub-Saharan Africans and local Muslims from Libya and Tunisia. They try to cross the sea in ramshackle boats and about 5,000 are making the voyage every week. The organizers of this flood of refugees are making a lot of money out of the suffering of others and have no regard for human life. Very late in the day the EU has woken up to the fact that this is a major issue and that they must attack the problem at its source. Not the economic problems in the countries of origin, that they can hardly affect, but, the criminals that put hundreds of people aboard leaking ships and leave them to their fate at sea.
These illegal immigrants are spreading out across Europe and it has become an EU-wide problem. There are thousands camped out in Calais and other French ports waiting for an opportunity to cross to Britain. Even though a large proportion of them are caught, how can they be sent back, to where? The French don’t want them, and the Germans have the largest proportion of them in the EU. The EU now needs to decide how to equitably distribute them.
The most critical migrant problem in the world currently is that of the Rohingya Muslims from Burma and Bangladeshi Muslims, who together are being left in leaking ships in the Andaman Sea off Burma and in the Molucca Straits near Indonesia and Malaysia. Since both these countries are Muslim one would think they would take pity on these migrants and save them, but they have only agreed to do so after great international pressure and only as a temporary measure. The Burmese Government will not allow the Rohingya to remain in Burma due to ethnic/religious tensions. Since their stay in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand is only temporary, one wonders what will happen to these thousands of people eventually.
Meanwhile, one of the constant flows of people is that of Mexicans and other Spanish-speaking migrants across the US border. It was estimated that there are 5 million illegal immigrants in the US. Of course, several waves of immigrants, from Europe, Asia and elsewhere, have greatly benefited US culture and economy over the years. But, there has to be a limit to all these Spanish-speaking migrants. Immigration policy will be a major issue in the upcoming US Presidential campaign.
There is no simple solution to these problems, they will continue to bedevil the affluent West. As Israel has done, the only solution may be building high walls and if they get through flying them back to where they came from.