Jonathan McConnell: The problem with the EU’s new refugee plan

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The first lesson you learn in Economics 101 is that people respond to incentives. Whether we’re talking about insurance, welfare, or hiring a new employee–incentives matter. That doesn’t change when we start talking about immigration or the refugee situation in the Middle East.

Right now the incentives involved in the migration and refugee problem do not align with the stated goal of creating a stable region and minimizing human rights atrocities.

I recently returned from a business trip to Turkey, from where millions of refugees have fled in the last several years into Greece and other members of the European Union (EU).

Today an arrangement between Turkey and the EU went into effect, sending more than 200 people back to Turkey from Greece, in an effort to stem the flow the wave migrants and refugees that has begun choking the EU in recent years.

Under the agreement, for every certified Syrian refugee sent to Turkey, one must also be sent for permanent settlement in the EU.

Of the migrants sent back to Turkey today, not a single one was a Syrian refugee.

The EU, Turkey, and Greece can contemplate how to halt the flow of migrants all they want, but it will not work until those nations, with backup from the United States, stop incentivizing bad behavior and empower Turkey and Syria to take matters into their own hands.

The acceptance of hundreds of thousands, even millions, of refugees has allowed ISIS, with its relatively small fighting force, to gain a significant foothold in Syria—and they’re moving toward Turkey.

Much how the United States’ immigration policy, or lack thereof, of allowing illegal immigrants to collect benefits and stay in the country with little or no negative ramifications has encouraged illegal immigration and stifled legal immigration, not incentivizing Syrians and Turks to stay and fight for their own nations will leave a negative impact across the globe.

In Hamburg, Germany, for example, there are three Immigration camps which have effectively taken over those portions of the city.  The police are reportedly not allowed to go into those portions of the city, and German citizens are leaving their homeland at a rapid rate. They feel their homeland has been taken over and do not feel safe.   

We are not going to stop the mass exodus of refugees without fixing the underlying tensions and problems. Simply shuffling refugees around the globe without a plan to require the Syrian and Turkish people to take responsibility for their land will only worsen the problem.  After all, if a massive amount of people want to come to the United States because it is the land of opportunity, then why would we are only further incentivizing Syrians to flee their country by giving them a fast-track option through declaring refugee status.

Syria is just one troubled area. There are an estimated 60 million refugees worldwide who are displaced from their homes. Europe is getting refugees from Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and other North African countries, all displaced due to insecurity in their homeland.

Whether the refugees are here in the United States, in the EU, or in Turkey, all of this insecurity, from the Middle East to Africa, can be credited to the Global Jihad Movement.  

The world must first recognize the Global Jihad Movement, then strengthen its resolve to destroy it. This effort must be led by Arab countries. Arab countries must take the lead in ridding the world of this radical ideology. For the U.S. to continue to meddle in the Middle East without Arab leadership is only to embolden Jihadist into fighting against an invading force.

Politics aside, we may be divided on economic and social policy, as a world, we must unite to protect our way of life. The atrocities of Belgium and Paris are a mere body of water away.

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Jonathan McConnell is the owner of Meridian Global Consulting, LLC, a maritime security firm, a Marine, and a former Republican U.S. Senate candidate.

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