Why SA's new plan to fortify its borders won't stop irregular migration

[ICYMI] Why SA's new plan to fortify its borders won't stop irregular migration

2020-09-23 01:43:00 PM

[ICYMI] Why SA's new plan to fortify its borders won't stop irregular migration

The new law provides for the establishment of a Border Management Authority. Its primary function is to provide integrated border law enforcement.

The new law provides for the establishment of aBorder Management Authority. Its primary function is to provide integrated border law enforcement. Its core functions include the governance and management of the lawful movement of people and goods within the border law enforcement areas and at ports of entry. It’ll work with other arms of government and relevant stakeholders in the discharge of border law

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.Why the changeMigration and immigration are not efficiently managed at the moment, being undertaken by several entities. These include the Department of Home Affairs, South African Revenue Service, the Defence Force and the State Security Agency.The functions and roles of these and other organs of state have been reconfigured. They will now basically fall on committees providing advice to the new agency on, inter alia, politics, security, defence and economy.

It is envisioned that the new agency and stronger policing will secure the porous borders, stop undocumented migration and enhance legitimate trade. But a closer reading of the new Act, particularly Chapter 6, shows that there is a strong move towards the militarisation of the country’s borders. This approach, which is similar to what European countries have implemented, is bound to fail in curbing undocumented migration. Undocumented migration is the crossing of borders without meeting immigration requirements.

Militarisation and securitarisationpersonnelto protect borders.Border securitisation involves stringent immigration requirements as well as the reinforcement of the physical border, by for example,erecting walls or fences.In the case of South Africa, this will, among other things, entail the deployment of border guards who have powers to arrest and detain anybody deemed to have transgressed the new law. The border guards will have extensive powers. They will, for example, be empowered to search any person, premise, goods and vehicles as well as question any person about any matter related to the passage of people, goods or vehicles through a port of entry or

across the borders.This has parallels with other parts of the world. Examples include the European Union (EU) borders between Morocco and, where the objective is to keep migrants and refugees out, particularly those from Africa.This involves the use of security technologies so sophisticated that they can

of a border jumper.Lessons from elsewhereNation states are entitled to secure their borders. Indeed, they are constitutionally bound to uphold their territorial sovereignty. But the militarisation of borders and securitisation of migration have always failed to stop irregular migration.

This can be seen in the case of the EU where they have failed to stop migrants fromcrossing into Europe.Instead, the migrants have been led to find alternative ways to cross the border. I expect the same thing to happen in the case of South Africa.No single country can effectively address the problem of irregular migration on its own in the southern African setting. Beefing up security at borders through military and security strategies is not the answer. An effective response lies in a regional approach to the management of migration and its root causes.

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Regional approach to illegal migrationSuch an approach should recognise that migration is a multidimensional phenomenon in terms of its causes, patterns, settings and consequences.The 16 member states of theshould jointly deal with the issue of undocumented migration through a regional migration mechanism which promotes free human mobility.

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We will not be told by a foreigner

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