The head of European border agency Frontex this week told a German newspaper that “nothing can stop” migration across the continent as countries seek immigration reform.
“This talk of ‘stopping people’ and ‘closing borders’ cannot be our narrative all the time,” Frontex chief Hans Leijtens told the daily paper Die Welt. “To be clear: Nothing can stop people from crossing a border, not a wall, not a fence, not a sea, not a river.”
The German outlet reported that at least one million people applied for asylum in the European Union (EU) last year, most of them trying to enter Germany, which has struggled with the question of immigration since the 2011 migrant crisis hit Europe.
Germany received the most applications from asylum seekers in November alone, with 37,000 — or 32% — of the 118,000 applications filed across the EU.
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Leijtens took over as Executive Director of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency — often referred to as Frontex — in March 2023, but had served as a member of the agency’s management board for most of the previous decade as well as Governor of the Residency for The Hague.
He took a very liberal stance on the migration crisis in Europe, saying that politicians have a superficial approach to the situation.
“Sometimes [they] pretend that you can simply put a cap on the top of the bottle, and then the migration will be stopped,” Leijtens said, labeling it a “misconception.” He argued that his job is to “strike a balance between effective border management and respect for fundamental rights.”
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European nations have already pursued their own avenues of reprieve regarding migration, from legal reform to snap initiatives, such as Britain’s highly contentious bill that seeks to deport migrants arriving in Britain without permission, from Rwanda.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak dismissed criticism and opposition to his bill, saying that he would outright ignore international law to see migrants deported.
“The treaty with Rwanda is signed, and the legislation which deems Rwanda a safe country has been passed unamended in our elected chamber,” Sunak said at a press briefing last week. The U.K. Supreme Court in November declared the policy unlawful.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, in a previous interview with Fox News Digital, discussed his country’s efforts to secure its border through “physical infrastructure” such as a wall.
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“You have built some infrastructure to protect [the border], and this is the only way,” Szijjarto said. “So, if you do not build a physical infrastructure with simple manpower, it is impossible to protect your border. So, physical infrastructure — be the fence, be the wall or be the buoys on the water — you have to do it. Otherwise, you are defenseless.”
He said that Hungary is sticking to a right to decide who enters the country, calling it a “sovereign decision” to maintain the “character and the identity” of the country.
“We simply do not want to change the nature of the country. Hungary must remain the country of the Hungarians, and I understand that the conservatives, the Republicans here and in Texas, are standing up for this as well, and we understand that the liberals are going against [them], so it’s very similar in Hungary and in the U.S.,” he said.
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France, one of the more liberal nations in Europe, continues to promote its own controversial immigration bill, which would introduce measures such as restricting access to social benefits and strict immigration quotas, the AFP reported.
Even some of French President Emmanuel Macron’s party members in parliament voted against it or abstained.
Several measures have been rejected, with the final text of the bill published this week including measures that would simplify procedures for deporting delinquent foreigners. The bill does retain measures for regularizing undocumented workers in industries facing shortages, which has prompted anger from politicians on the right.
Fox News Digital’s Michael Dorgan and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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