Human Smuggling: Ruthless Crime or Invaluable Service?

Human smuggling is not new or easy to stop. Governments consider the activity a crime, yet migrants fleeing war, poverty, persecution or disasters seek out the services of experienced smugglers. The most desperate stories draw global sympathy. “For many unauthorized migrants, smugglers are freedom facilitators,” concedes Joseph Chamie, demography expert and former director of the United Nations Population Division. Analysts do not agree on the best approach for slowing human smuggling: Some urge tight border security, but others point out that walls and other barriers force migrants to rely on smugglers. Open borders would end smuggling but would disrupt communities and countries. Chamie describes the many challenges confronting governments including varying perceptions among their own citizens and even border guards or police who look the other way. He concludes, “Many consider human smuggling as permissible or even justified when helping those escaping persecution or desperate conditions.” Good governance emphasizes compassion and security. – YaleGlobal

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