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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


VAN DER ELST, Herman J. The problematic nature and joint control of immigrants in the European Union: lessons for South Africa. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2011, vol.51, n.2, pp.142-160. ISSN 2224-7912.

International migration is a consequence of globalisation and part of a transnational trend which permanently influences communities, cultural interaction and socio-economic governance in developed and developing states (Harris 2009:4). According to Solomon (1996:1) one out of every hundred and fourteen people in the world can be regarded as displaced. Angenendt (2008:1) is of the opinion that the reasons for illegal immigration in particular can be universally linked to the attempt to fl ee from political violence and oppression or a lack of economic prospects in the country of origin. In the European Union (EU) the largest group of immigrants, for example, come from Turkey, Morocco, Albania and Serbia (A common immigration policy 2008:4). In the United States of America (USA) illegal immigrants and non-established minorities are mostly from Mexico, Cuba and other South American states. In South Africa the abovementioned groups mainly come from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland (Whitman 2000:19). Migration is a multidimensional and complex concept relating to a variety of interpretations and meanings. For the purposes of this article the research will be narrowed down to illegal immigration and insufficient integration and marginalisation of non-established minorities in South Africa and the European Union (with a brief reference to the Netherlands as a case study). The key concepts can be summarised as follows: a) Non-established minorities: Smit (2009:8) views non-established minorities as individuals or a group that enter a receiver state legally or illegally. These individuals or groups find it difficult to integrate on social, cultural and economic levels in the receiver state. Non- established minorities tend to live in groups, develop their own community structures and tend to retain their own language, culture and religion. This means that they are unable to integrate into the structure and culture of the society that they have entered. They therefore tend to function and live in isolation. In many respects their traditions and way of life are being viewed as strange and regarded with suspicion. The consequence is that non-established minorities are often subjected to socio-economic marginalisation and even discrimination; b) Illegal immigration: In brief terms an illegal or undocumented immigrant can be described as a person that enters a state without formal permission. An illegal immigrant therefore enters a state outside the legislative migration framework of that state. Illegal immigration usually takes place through people-trafficking organisations, overstaying on a tourist or study visa or forging a visa (Offe 2011:4). The South African government has recently launched initiatives to improve immigration control and limit illegal immigration from other African states. In broad terms these initiatives consist of the redeployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on the South African borders, as well as improved internal processing arrangements and deportation procedures. In the light of the foregoing actions, this article undertakes a holistic comparative analysis of the immigration and non-established minority challenges facing the EU and the way in which illegal immigration is managed in South Africa. The primary assumption is that there are managerial shortcomings and certain lessons to be learnt from the EU experience. It is the main objective of this article to highlight these lessons. Firstly, the article focuses on the impact of moral obligations as an important rationale for the extent of, and manner in which the South African authorities currently manage illegal immigration and the problem of non-established minority groups. Here an emphasis is placed on crime, unemployment and xenophobia as perceived consequences of illegal immigration. Secondly, as the main focus, the article is narrowed down to the perception of, and manner in which illegal immigration and non-established minorities are currently being dealt with within the EU. In this regard there is a specific emphasis on the perception of the national interest of individual states as rationale behind the management of illegal immigration and non-established minorities in the EU. This comparison serves as a guideline to identify the challenges that must be overcome by the South African authorities and provide recommendations for relevant policy formulation and the implementation thereof.

Keywords : Illegal immigration; South Africa (SA); European Union (EU); nonestablished minorities; joint control; consensus; cultural and structural integration; mutual interest; national self-interest and moral obligations.

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