Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Transnational criminal activities that involve the recruitment, movement, and delivery of migrants to a destination are on the rise in Europe. Given the demand to enter Europe due to work opportunities, perceived economic advantages, or dire political and economic conditions in sending countries, it is unsurprising that human smuggling and trafficking are increasing.
The problem of human smuggling (involving a consensual relationship between migrant and smuggler) has become a high priority for EU Member States, and is especially challenging given Europe’s relatively porous borders. Trafficking, in which persons are enslaved and exploited by their traffickers, is also a large-scale problem—with an estimated 140,000 trafficking victims in Europe in 2010 generating $3 billion for their exploiters.
Two new reports issued today by the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration examine facets of human smuggling and trafficking activities and back-door entries into Europe. In Human Smuggling and Trafficking into Europe: A Comparative Perspective, researcher Louise Shelley examines trafficking and smuggling trends and routes to Europe, and profiles the facilitators and clients/victims of such activities. The report concludes with a menu of policy solutions that are likely to reduce trafficking and smuggling flows, noting that such policies must be multifaceted to address a variety of contributing factors simultaneously. Primarily, policymakers must address the demand for such migrants through education, prevention efforts, and prosecution; harmonize policy efforts within and across countries so that smugglers and traffickers do not just move to take advantage of the most permissive regulatory environment; decrease the profits of smugglers and traffickers; and improve labor laws so that legal immigrants may fill the demand for the work that currently employs smuggled migrants.
A companion report, “Donkey Flights”: Illegal Immigration from the Punjab to the United Kingdom, written by journalist Nicola Smith, sketches one immigration loophole into Europe: so-called “donkey flights” by which Indian migrants obtain a tourist visa for a Schengen-zone country in order to enter the United Kingdom through the back door. The report is based on an undercover exposé of Punjabi agents by The Sunday Times, and from interviews conducted with migrants, law enforcement officers, and senior officials in India and Europe.