As Italy grapples with a rapidly evolving immigration crisis, with thousands of migrants arriving on the small island of Lampedusa in just days, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has vowed to use “extraordinary measures” to deal with the situation. The prime minister has even proposed a naval blockade to deter human smugglers operating off the coast of North Africa.
While Europe navigates its immigration woes, the United States should pay close attention. Lampedusa could be a dark glimpse into the future if American border security remains lax.
Lampedusa, located closer to Africa than to the Italian mainland, recently experienced an influx of over 6,000 migrants in a 24-hour period. That number is greater than the island’s population.
According to Meloni, the massive flow is managed by “unscrupulous traffickers,” which merits drastic action, including a naval blockade. Her declaration was in line with Brexit supporter Jim Ferguson’s description of the crisis as “a weapon” against “sovereign nations.”
Migrants on Lampedusa, Italy are setting up barricades and establishing territorial control over certain areas of the island.
🔊 … 🚨🚨🚨
Italy's sovereign control of their territory is being lost. Will Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni sit by as the island is taken? More boats… pic.twitter.com/KSmj8Bow4O
— Wall Street Silver (@WallStreetSilv) September 18, 2023
On the other side of the Atlantic, the United States faces its own challenges at the southern border. If America chooses to ignore the experiences of countries like Italy, it risks falling into a similar spiral of border insecurity and humanitarian issues. The Italian Red Cross reported that its refugee center in Lampedusa, normally housing around 400 people, was hosting about 3,800 migrants at one point. Even well-intentioned humanitarian systems are unsustainable under such pressure.
It’s crucial to note that the European Union had previously reached a financial agreement with Tunisia to help counter smuggling operations. However, the recent migrant waves indicate that these methods fail to stop the tide. According to the Italian Interior Ministry, alien arrivals in Italy have spiked from 42,000 in 2021 to already exceeding 126,000 this year.
In the European context, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a plan that falls short of Meloni’s call for a naval blockade. The plan does include speeding funds to Tunisia and accelerating asylum requests. While these approaches may offer some relief, they don’t address the root problem: unchecked illegal immigration.
Much like in the U.S., where discussions around border security often devolve into political bickering, the EU faces internal disagreements. Von der Leyen stressed the need for a “European answer,” but that’s easier said than done. Meloni criticized previous EU missions for being ineffective, accusing them of encouraging smuggler activities.
In a world where the ease and affordability of international travel are continuously increasing, developed countries adjacent to the developing world are at particular risk of experiencing mass illegal immigration. While Europe is exploring various options, America should proactively adopt effective and humane border security measures to prevent its own Lampedusa-like crisis.
Meloni’s “extraordinary measures” may be controversial, but they signify a leader acknowledging the need for robust action. It’s a lesson the United States would do well to consider seriously.