Tolerated Stay, Open Borders and National Security

Simbol EUWhen the current incarnation of the European Union (EU) was formed, a number of member states agreed to eliminate their internal borders, creating a region called the Schengen Zone (named after the town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed). Anyone admitted to any Schengen country is admitted to all of the nations within the zone. For example, travelers fly from New York to Paris and are admitted to France – they are then free to cross the Border from France to Belgium and Belgium to Germany without any further inspection by immigration officials.

Ironically, most of Europe is now wondering how Anis Amri was able to move so easily throughout Europe. Amri is the Tunisian national suspected of stealing a tractor-trailer and mowing down shoppers at Berlin’s Christmas Market. He left his native country fleeing an armed robbery warrant and entered the Schengen Zone through Italy by claiming to be a refugee.

Despite being inadmissible under EU immigration law, he was granted “tolerated stay” status. Theoretically temporary, this category is used for aliens who are inadmissible, but who can’t immediately be expelled, due to administrative or political (often political correctness) concerns. In some cases, “tolerated stay” recipients are given cash benefits and housing, at taxpayer expense.

The combination of “tolerated stay” status and open borders agreements allows known public safety and national security threats to move freely throughout Europe. Meanwhile, police and security officials must still operate under national laws. So while terrorists exploit the Schengen Zone to evade law enforcement, police are forced to negotiate bureaucratic obstacles and coordinate investigations across multiple jurisdictions.

The formation of the Schengen Zone was an expression of the member states’ belief they shared a common identity that made borders unnecessary. That borderless zone is now serving as a magnet for refugees and economic migrants from cultures that are drastically different from those in Europe. And they are arriving so rapidly and in such large numbers, Europe lacks the resources to effectively assimilate them.  It remains to be seen whether the Schengen Zone will collapse of its own weight. But recent history has clearly disproven the foolish notion that Europe doesn’t need borders.

The United States should learn from Europe’s experiences and phase out programs that reduce or remove immigration controls, like the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the Visa Waiver Program. It should also eliminate the American equivalents of “tolerated stay” – immigration parole, deferred action, and temporary protected status. America has already had far too many Anis Amris of its own.

avatar About Matt O'Brien

Matthew J. O’Brien joined FAIR in 2016. Matt is responsible for managing FAIR’s research activities. He also writes content for FAIR’s website and publications. Over the past twenty years he has held a wide variety of positions focusing on immigration issues, both in government and in the private sector. Immediately prior to joining FAIR Matt served as the Chief of the National Security Division (NSD) within the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where he was responsible for formulating and implementing procedures to protect the legal immigration system from terrorists, foreign intelligence operatives, and other national security threats. He has also held positions as the Chief of the FDNS Policy and Program Development Unit, as the Chief of the FDNS EB-5 Division, as Assistant Chief Counsel with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, as a Senior Advisor to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, and as a District Adjudications Officer with the legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service. In addition, Matt has extensive experience as a private bar attorney. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Johns Hopkins University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law.

Comments

  1. Ask Turkey If the EU Muslim Refugee Worked Yesterday

    The Istanbul attack is not blamed on ISIS yet…..has the EU media under Merkel [EU's Open Border Hillary equivalent] ever really blamed ISIS for anything clearly????

    They need Extreme Vetting….Merkel does not want it, she wants security risks instead. EU spineless cowards IOWs.

  2. avatar Leland says:

    Tunisia refused to take Amri back because they claimed they were not sure if he was a Tunisian citizen although there was clear evidence he was. This is another case where the choice should be take back your criminals or no more visas for anyone. Hopefully it’s what Trump will do with Cuba, because as usual Obama gave up everything and got nothing in return from the Castro brothers.

    Paul Krugman was warning in the NY Times that Trump better be careful on trade because other nations might “retaliate”. What are they going to do? Cut off our products? In effect, many of them have already done that which is why we are running such big trade deficits. They would only hurt themselves. Krugman and company always insist that trade deals will “let our products into other countries”. No, they still discriminate against ours while we accept even more from them.