How are human trafficking networks created?

by Peio Aierbe, member of SOS Racismo (Spain). Published in El País on 28/08/2018

What is happening on the westernmost border between Spain and France illustrates perfectly one of the pernicious consequences of the policies that are followed for migrant people and refugees. These people arrive in Irun after a very hard migration journey and find themselves with a new obstacle to overcome: a whole police device of the French Gendarmerie that establishes controls by the usual ways of border crossing. Those who cross the border are intercepted by the controls according to their features and skin color: not white. What is called as ethnic profile control. This practice is illegal and in France has had several court rulings as well as a number of international rulings, from the UN among others.

After being intercepted, these people are returned to the other side of the border without further formalities. It does not matter that some are minor. All this happens in a point of the territory where, according to the Schengen treaty, human circulation should be free and without the existence of controls. Moreover, these practices are extended along a good part of the route through the towns of Bayonne to Bordeaux, mainly in trains and bus stations. Those who are detained will be expelled without any legal procedure that allows them to oppose any of the remedies provided by law.
After being repeatedly expelled, these people think that they will not get it by their means, and end up accepting the services of those who swarm around offering them to cross the border against payment of money.

They have already suffered this extortion throughout their journey and, again, in European territory, they must continue to suffer it. So by stopping migrants to cross a border where shouldn’t be one, they are thrown into the hands of those networks. Then, paradoxically, the fight of institutions and police bodies against these human trafficking networks will be represented by the Media as commendable defiance. The corresponding medal will be placed when they dismantle one of them, while a handful of others arise in the heat of the business.

These practices represent a clear example of the criticism that all types of entities and organizations are raising towards border closure European policies, creating and nourishing human trafficking networks. For these networks, to greater difficulty opposed to the circulation of migrant people, the more they accentuate their exploitation profiles.

So the business bosses are already rubbing their hands at the expansion of the business. Because the border between France and Spain has a length of 656 kilometers, with countless border crossings that have been habitual transit over the centuries of all types of contraband merchandise and other activities. And policing all that border are already major words. The institutions know it, but they will continue to use enormous resources to shield the borders. After all, the victims of that policy are not “of ours”.