A 127 mile border between Turkey and Greece represents a no man’s land that has become the back door entrance for immigrants from the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. The accessibility of crossing this border has lately been attracting a drastic influx of immigrants. Frontex, the European Union’s border policing agency, states that more than 55,000 people have crossed the border just this year, increasing immigration by 17 percent. The escalation of immigrants has not gone unnoticed.
Many in Greece resent the immigrants that come in because they further stress Greece’s already terrible economic and living conditions. Greece has to deal with a congested refugee system because the European Union in January 2012 established that sending asylum seekers back to Greece would infringe on their fundamental rights due to Greece’s abysmal living situation. Thus, the increase in undocumented immigrants in Greece has only stressed their economic situation, and people have begun supporting the extreme-right Golden Dawn party, which works towards ridding Greece of undocumented immigrants. Yet, Greece remains incompetent in policing its borders.
The influx in immigration across the border between Turkey and Greece has been felt throughout Europe. Top French officials have proposed the idea of building a wall in this area. An estimated one person in 20 is said to be in Greece illegally. Political parties in Greece are becoming more right wing and extreme, and the frustrated public is taking their anger out on immigrants.
Athens is in the process of building a $7.3 million fence along the Turkish border, but many believe that this will not be an inadequate deterrent.Yet, aside from the political and technical aspects of immigration, there is a whole other standpoint to the issue. People immigrate for valid, sometimes life threatening reasons. Whether it is to escape abuse at home, find a job to support loved ones or avoid political tensions, people make the harsh journey away from their home for valid reasons. Most immigrants from the Middle East heading for Istanbul, Turkey, have walked months through the wilds of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Often they are not let in and forced to make the trek home, or if they do manage to make it, they share crowded apartments, barely able to meet basic living expenses.
The issue is a sensitive one; should immigrants be banned from entering Greece and Turkey, therefore preventing further economic ruin, or should individuals be given a chance to live a better life?