April 2021: Circulating Borders
President Biden came under scrutiny last week for failing to overturn an illegal Trump-era policy that blocks asylum seekers at the U.S.’s southern border. On March 20th 2020, the Trump administration used the pandemic as a pretext to expel refugees across the border under the guise of ‘protecting’ citizens, misusing public health authority under ‘Title 42’. Human rights organisations have issued a joint report demanding the current government drop this inhumane expulsion policy. In this month’s newsletter, we look at this malleable and hostile border management approach – and how the EU’s immigration system has become increasingly inseparable from its neighbours across the Atlantic.
Following 9/11, the U.S. began, what immigration journalist Todd Miller referred to as, a ‘planetary expansion’ of border enforcement. The boundary surrounding the state has been effectively bolstered thousands of miles across the globe, with cyber policing, extreme vetting practices and agents all used in unison through an incomprehensibly well-financed international network. In 2009, the European Parliament commissioned a paper praising the U.S. as the ‘undisputed forerunner in employing advanced technology and strict control procedures,’ thus calling for Europe to draw influence for its own alternative mechanisms that could create a more ‘watertight entry-exit’ system. Author Harsha Walia argues that the migration ‘crises’ that the U.S. and EU have produced entire industries to ‘solve’, are in fact of their own volition. For Harsha, they are the obvious outcomes of ‘conquest, capitalist globalisation, and climate change generating mass dispossession worldwide.’
In order to manage its highly technologised border management project, the EU is increasingly dependent on technology designed in the U.S.. Earlier this month, a group of journalists produced a report criticising a landmark deal signed between the EU and Palantir, one of Silicon Valley’s most controversial private tech firms. The Greek government pushed through a deal with Palantir, who since 2013 has made a sustained drive to plant itself within Europe’s police systems, taking Covid-19 tech-based responses as an opportunity to accelerate its entry. The border industry is experiencing spectacular growth, immune to economic crises of recent years; research conducted by the Transnational Institute concluded that the border security market could reach a market value of $65 – $68 billion by 2025. With global Biometrics and Artificial Intelligence predicted to garner the largest expansion, this is a ripe terrain for private technology firms like Palantir to sideline into. These developments show how border technologies and policies are circulating globally, between nations and through private companies, creating a profitable industry and an ever more nebulous system preventing mobility.
Image description: An excerpt of the EU comissioned paper The Tools Called To Support The 'Delivery' Of Freedom, Security And Justice: A Comparison Of Border Security Systems In The Eu And In The Us. The table shows at a glance the correspondence of bordering systems between the EU and the US in 2009. The EU seems to follow the US’ approach in the creation of similar border security systems a few years later in most cases.