Borders are not extreme

European leaders, we are told, fear that their relationship with the United States could be destabilized if former President Donald Trump is reelected and pursues an America-first agenda, not one aligned to the priorities of Europe’s ruling parties.

Those European leaders should pay attention to their own constituents. After the European Parliament elections last weekend, it is clear European voters want changes similar to those being offered by Trump.

Some 360 million voters in 27 European countries went to the polls and chose 720 spots in the continentwide body that has the power to approve or amend European Union regulations and approve trade agreements.

The center-right European People’s Party, which has controlled the EU for a generation, maintained a solid majority in the legislature, but several more nationalist parties gained ground while leftist parties, such as the Greens, crumbled.

Many news outlets and other political participants refer to the nationalist parties as “extreme” or “far right” but do not justify that obvious effort at denigration. The parties vary from country to country, but they share a deep unhappiness with the admission of millions of immigrants from around the world into their countries. It is not just that the immigrants get public benefits at taxpayer expense, which is expensive, nor is it simply that migrant populations are often allowed to break laws with impunity, which is grating undermines public peace. It is also that they refuse, and indeed are encouraged, to refuse to assimilate into the cultures in which they have moved to live.

Polling on the day voting began showed that “immigration and asylum seekers” were the third-highest concern of voters across Europe, but that issue weighs more heavily on voters’ minds in countries where nationalist parties did the best. In France, where Marine Le Pen’s National Rally more than doubled the vote of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party, immigration was the second most pressing issue, just behind the economy. In Germany, where the Alternative for Germany party beat Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, immigration was the top issue.

European voters are unhappy with, even enraged by, the immigration policies foisted on them by their ruling classes. If those supposedly centrist parties wish to “save democracy,” which is a boast such parties tend to make, they should respond to the democratic wish of their voters that immigration from alien cultures be sharply reduced.

The problem European leaders face on immigration is the same one faced by the Democratic Party here in the U.S. Open borders activists have convinced leaders that any advocacy of limits on immigration is, by definition, racist and thus morally unthinkable. 

But there is nothing racist about controlling a nation’s borders. Indeed, it is a moral imperative in a democracy that citizens choose who may enter their country and who may not. Asserting control over a border is the primary duty of a nation-state. You can’t have a functional political community with the entire world. You need limits. You need to control who can become part of your political community.

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It does not help that so many immigrants entering Europe and the U.S. reject Western values. By entering the country illegally, by definition, they repudiate any commitment to law and order, and as protests both here and across the Atlantic show, they also do not share our commitment to supporting democracies under attack from terrorist regimes.

Despite rhetoric that suggests international migration is driven by poverty, the opposite is true: As countries with weaker economies than ours become wealthier, their populations gain the means to see how much wealthier we are and to travel here to enjoy the wealth we’ve created. Until European and Democratic Party leaders accept that migration must be limited, expect more victories for supposedly “extreme” parties that don’t deny that obvious truth.

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