Is Irregular Migration worth it?

Dear Readers,

This article is usual about migration, but it’s meant to discourage irregular migration. Let’s be clear, I am not against migration. It as a fact of life that people migrate and I even make a living out of providing legitimate services to migrants in The Netherlands and worldwide.

What I want to do is to warn those who believe the beautiful stories of prosperity and success for those who make it to Europe. Those stories are not true. It has become more and more visible that irregular migration nowadays is not good for the irregular migrants. Let’s look at the reality step by step.

How is life in Europe?

For me, life is good, but I have a Dutch passport and therefore I’m welcome in the country. Also I am a highly educated professional, who knows the language and the society. Then life is nice and easy but what if you are not so lucky.

An irregular migrant is an uninvited guest who is far from welcome and should be returned to the country of origin as soon as possible. That is not only the point of view of the majority of the population of the European Union (EU) but it is also the policy and law of the EU and its member states. In short the law that is applicable and enforced in the whole European Union is focussed on that. Part of that policy is to discourage any form of irregular immigration.

One of the laws supporting this policy is that an employer is not allowed to employ irregular migrants. In the Netherlands the fine for employing irregular migrants is Euro 8.000.- and there is a lot of enforcement going on. No sensible legitimate employer will dare to give a job to an irregular migrant. The option left for irregular migrants is then to seek employment with dubious employers who seriously underpay and overwork the migrant.

Another law forbids landlords to rent housing to irregular migrants. Even providing housing for free is against the law; and yes, there will be hefty fines. The option left for irregular migrants is then to seek a place to stay with family or dubious landlords who let you seriously overpay for a place where my dog does refuse to sleep.

So, in short an irregular migrant is not welcome and is always at risk of being arrested, detained and expelled. Since you do not know the language and the way society works, almost any greedy nitwit can outsmart and scare you to squeeze some more money out of you. Most likely will be exploited as extremely cheap and obedient labourer and will be forced to overpay for housing. In that case my conclusion is that it is not a good thing to be an irregular migrant, not even in the EU. If someone tells you another story? Believe what you want but you have been warned!

When I get my residence permit all is worth it

It is not so that when you will reach Europe, you will get a residence permit eventually. On the contrary, most irregular migrants will never get a permit. They remain irregulars, get detained sometimes, when possible they will be expelled. As long as they remain irregular migrants, they will have to survive is a country where the public opinion and the political climate becomes more and more unfavourable to irregular migrants. That is also a fact of life.

It also must be made clear that countries have the right to limit and control migration. A country is expected and allowed to control its borders. This is not in conflict with any human rights treaty. This is also a fact of life.

So while the chance of getting a residence permit has become very unlikely, life as an irregular becomes harder and harder. If someone tells you another story? Believe what you want but you have been warned!

I will make it anyway and just have to make the trip

As mentioned before, countries have the right to limit and control migration and one way of doing that is to control the EU borders. The EU has now a system in place with countries around the Mediterranean Sea not letting irregular migrants passing through to the EU territory. This system seems to work quite well, at least for the EU countries.

For the migrants it becomes nearly an impenetrable barrier. Those who try anyway, will get stuck in countries like Libya. There are huge detention centres that are hellish places to be. The United Nations expressed their concerns and stated that the treatment there is absolutely inhumane.

This was already known because we all have seen, or should have seen, the recent footage from Libya where African migrants were publicly sold as slaves for about 900 USD. Do not believe me because I am writing this, check it for yourself. Just search the internet and you will find all independent information you need.

In short, it is not worth to undertake this journey to Europe, not only because irregular immigration is no good for the migrant, but also because halfway one most likely will end up in a situation of captivity so disgusting that you wish you never embarked on the journey.

Of course there are people who benefit from you making the journey. They will tell you beautifully stories and promise you what you like to hear. Believe who you want. In my opinion it is not sensible even to try to become an irregular migrant in Europe by crossing the continent through all kinds of dodgy manners.

What does make sense then?

The risks and the costs in time, efforts and money are huge and the reward is poor. Not to go for irregular migration then make sense. Imagine that one invests all the money for the journey, the efforts and creativity to build up something in his own country. Then the migrant, the local community and Europe will benefit. Do not think this is impossible; one just has to explore the options with the same vigour as the option of irregular migration. Investigate what programmes are available. Think of micro-credits, think of starting up a small business with the help of family that are already in Europe, as an NGO for advice, just investigate every option thinkable and unthinkable. Is that difficult, yes but not more difficult than making the journey to Europe. Difference is that you are likely making a profit out of it and you certainly will survive it. If I was a young person in Africa, I would give that a try.

What can the people in the Diaspora do?

Aside from telling the unembellished truth about life in Europe, I think the time has come for people in the Diaspora to think and work together.

I hereby invite all readers to think about ways that can support young people in West Africa; who want to start a business there instead of embarking on the journey into irregular migration. Let all who already do business with West Africa coach one of these youngsters towards a business and a lot of problems will be solved.

Of course our office is willing to support that. For those who have a migration problem, we are providing support, also for those who are still abroad. You best send an e-mail and we will reply.

What to do when you want to visit our office?

Readers who are in need of legal support are welcome to visit our office for free consultation. This of course, only after you made an appointment. For an appointment call 070 427 3215 and explain to our Secretary what your question is.

Do not hold information back because our Secretary will decide if and when an appointment is possible and which of our lawyers is best qualified for the specific problem.

When you come to the appointment, bring all information that is available. Only then can we judge the case and do make good use of the time.

*A.G. Kleijweg ǀ Advocatenkantoor Kleijweg, Koninginnegracht 22 A, 2514 AB Den Haag ǀ Tel: +31 (70) 317 7700 ǀ ǀ