July 25, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

The color of migration policy around the world

In short, the fairer you are, the better off you’ll be.


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Anti-Black racism is an international currency even in countries that speak in grandiose terms about human rights and democracy.

This reality is most visible in the realm of migration policy around the world. There is literally a racial pecking order among so-called developed nations when it comes to who’s welcome and who’s not.

That policy in short:

The fairer you are, the better off you’ll be.

Let’s recount a recent tragedy – entirely avoidable, entirely political – that underscores the often deadly racial politics at play.

Allow me to recount a recent tragedy – entirely avoidable, entirely political – that underscores the often deadly racial politics at play.

Dozens of Black African migrants died trying to scale a fence separating Morocco and Spanish territory in an attempt to enter the “Spanish” enclave of Melilla. Melilla is really part of Africa, but politically, it belongs to Spain. As such, it is part of the European Union.

For migrants and potential asylum seekers in Morocco, trying to climb the fences separating the African continent from the EU is worth the risk. Once in the EU, in this case Melilla, European and human-rights laws apply. It doesn’t matter how you arrived.

These Africans never made it. 

Perhaps dozens (the numbers are disputed) died trying to scale the fence. Human rights groups believe some died from injuries but also from getting beaten by Moroccan and Spanish border forces. It’s said some of the dead have been identified.

Pictures following the Melilla massacre showed survivors lying on the floor, hands tied, dead bodies strewn about. They were treated like human garbage. There’s no flags for them or warm sentiments of solidarity from politicians. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, following the massacre, at the NATO summit reaffirmed the need to secure Spain’s borders and asked for support in doing so.

Juxtapose this with the warm welcome given to Ukrainians by Spain and other EU nations. They bent over backwards to provide housing, free movement, and access to education facilities and the job market.

The Africans and Ukrainians are equally deserving of humane treatment. Ukrainians received it while the Africans did not. 

Skin color determined who lived and who died. This is why its known as Fortress Europe, but it extends to other “developed” nations.

It includes the UK and Europe’s No. 1 ally, the United States. Like the UK  and Europe, the US was built by Black people. Like the UK, and Europe, when it comes to migration, Black lives don’t matter.

The US Supreme Court recently OK’d the Biden administration’s push to end Donald Trump’s Stay-in-Mexico policy. It’s a step in the right direction, but it didn’t come in time to save the poor souls who perished while trapped in an abandoned truck near San Antonio. 

There was no safe route for those people to apply for asylum legally.  In their eyes, the better option was placing their trust in human traffickers rather than a system that privileges white migration. 

The American dream becomes a nightmare for so many people who just want to live their lives and build a better life for their families.

American border forces are so brutal,that they essentially operate as thugs in uniform, usually spoiling for some kind of “action” – unless you’re white. The system isn’t broken. It’s working as it was designed.

Who is left at the bottom? 

Black migrants.  

Though Stay-in-Mexico is ending, Title 42 is still in place. It’s used mostly to expel Black migrants and prevent a path to claiming asylum legally. (In May, the US actually accelerated its expulsion of Haitians.)

Border Patrol released recently an internal investigation into the horrendous scenes at Del Rio late last year. The report confirmed that US border officials used unnecessary force against Haitians.  

White men on horseback carrying whips intimidated them the same way slave patrols used to round up runaways. Can you imagine white migrants being treated in this way? Can you imagine Title 42 being used as the justification in doing so? You can’t. You’re not supposed to be able to imagine “the natural order of things” ever changing.

White people have always had for them the red tape removed and the drawbridge thrown down. Black people have always been treated like dirt. Those in between sometimes have it a little better. 

That’s just how it is. 

This is America. This is Europe. 

It has to change.

Richard Sudan covers human rights and American foreign affairs for the Editorial Board. Based in London, his reporting has appeared in The Guardian, Independent and others. Find him @richardsudan.

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