Immigration, Integration, and Security: America and Europe in Comparative Perspective

  • Published

Immigration, Integration, and Security: America and Europe in Comparative Perspective edited by Ariane Chebel d’Appollonia and Simon Reich. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008, 496 pp.

The linkage between immigration policy, the integration of new residents into society, national security, and a cornucopia of related issues, is a fairly new phenomenon. Although the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and those that followed in Madrid and London were not the sole precursors to this “new era,” those events brought the issues to the forefront of public debate. While the United States builds a wall on its southern border and immigration reform stalls in Congress, Europeans are considering their options to slow the tide of immigrants coming from the south and east. Of greatest concern for the European Union are the generations of Muslims in many European countries that are unassimilated and often living in distinct societies.

In the postwar era, Europeans have opened their borders to supplement their economies. Work offered to the willing has brought millions of migrants to Europe. The underlying difference between immigrating to the United States or to Europe is the nature of citizenship once an individual arrives. In the United States it is implicit that immigrants who come for economic opportunity will eventually become citizens, while in Europe generations of immigrants remain residents with a decidedly more difficult road to citizenship if the possibility even exists.

In Immigration, Integration, and Security, editors Ariane Chebel d’Appollonia and Simon Reich have assembled an impressive array of articles, all focused on the questions arising from the aforementioned issues. This volume provides largely European perspectives on issues as wide-ranging as border security, immigration, societal integration, terrorism policy and practices, as well as questions associated with sovereignty and human rights.

In the introductory chapter Chebel d’Appollonia, an associate senior researcher at the Center for Political Research at Sciences Po, and Reich, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, outline an “increasingly complex” interconnectivity between immigration, integration policies, and security issues. The events of 11 September 2001 are viewed as a failure of border control, as the 19 hijackers entered the United States legally. In response to 9/11, the authors explain, the United States has “blurred the lines between internal and external security,” which creates the difficulty of reconciling public safety with the values of an open society.

According to the editors, the book arrives at five overarching conclusions, of which the first two are that current trends in immigration and border security policies in both Europe and the United States predated the events of 9/11. The third finding is that terrorist attacks on the United States, Madrid, and London turned immigration policy into a debate over national security. Fourth, the American focus continues to be on the “external enemy,” as opposed to the European spotlight on internal threats. The final finding is that Europe and the United States disagree on the methods and process for countering the terrorist threat.

The threat of jihadist terrorism from the authors’ perspective is a “novel” concept that is posed by primarily European issues of expanded borders; economic, political, and civil rights pressures from the influx of immigrants; and a growing racial and religious intolerance in civil societies. While several authors seem quite pessimistic about current trends, Ilya Prizel outlines the positive influence of the Christian ethic that encourages immigration in the United States, specifically from Latin America.

Jolyon Howorth’s chapter on terrorism and the contrasting US and European responses to it is one of the few in this work that soberly analyzes a complex issue from opposite sides of the Atlantic. The author, agreeing with Didier Bigo and Chebel d’Appollonia, notes that the primary difference in counterterrorism policy is perspective. Given the attacks in Europe, EU countries generally consider the terrorist threat from within, while the United States views the threat as primarily external. While Howorth outlines transatlantic roadblocks to cooperation in counterterrorism efforts, he ends his essay on a high note, citing the beginning of a glacial shift towards “need to share” from the previous “need to know” status of intelligence. Martin Schain sees similarities in the way that Britain, France, and the United States have approached the terrorism threat legislatively. The greatest area of convergence between the three nations lies in the surveillance of immigrant communities.

The editors’ final argument is there is no “comprehensive linkage” between immigration, integration, and national security on either side of the Atlantic. Integration is underscored as the preferred solution to potential violence emanating from immigrant communities. However, as noted terrorism expert Marc Sageman explains in his most recent work, Leaderless Jihad, the primary difference between immigrant populations in the United States and Europe is the rate of radicalization. While a majority of Muslims in the United States have faced some type of prejudice, racism, or discrimination, a majority still see themselves as American first and Muslim second. Immigrants flock to the United States, the “Land of Opportunity,” and while the “American Dream” might not be attainable by all, the social and economic roadblocks are fewer and success is perceived to be available to all. Sageman notes that this perception, not the reality, makes all the difference.

The authors paint a fairly bleak picture of immigrant integration and the resulting implications for security. There is great concern for growing power of the state while little anecdotal evidence is provided that countries are using this power to the detriment of residents. For today’s strategic Airman, Immigration, Integration, and Security can provide a useful critique of European and American policies. However, the book asks but rarely answers some of the seminal questions of immigration and national security. What should the United States and the EU be doing to prevent the deterioration of civil rights while protecting the security of citizens? Is greater transatlantic cooperation beneficial? Are there any successful models that could be emulated? The book does not provide any policy recommendations and is therefore limited in its utility for policy makers and strategists.

Michelle L. Spencer

USAF Counterproliferation Center

"The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the US government or the Department of Defense."