Mr. Speaker, as much as we like to pretend that the chaos of the Middle East and Africa is contained to those regions, it is not. Violent conflict, political oppression, and economic hardship anywhere causes ripple effects across the globe.
These secondary effects of distant unrest create serious challenges for ourselves and our allies. Nowhere is this more true than the ongoing migrant crisis that is fundamentally changing Europe. Our European allies are facing an unprecedented wave of refugees and immigrants flooding across their borders.
Many are innocent families fleeing danger, poverty, and starvation. But there are some who have ill intent. The foreign fighter phenomenon has disguised wolves in sheep’s clothing and requires increased vigilance.
Our European friends have for centuries faced daunting challenges coming from their near abroad. Even the Roman Empire faced a mass migration problem coming from Asia. But with more people displaced today than during the Second World War, the challenge is enormous and we must assist Europe to develop a strategy.
The freedom and prosperity of the West has always been an oasis in a world of instability and tyranny. Europeans, just like Americans, wish they could help all those in need but understand there are limits to what can be done. Slamming the door shut seems cruel but leaving it wide open creates a new set of problems.
Every society faces strain when mass migration occurs. And there are real cultural, security, and economic implications which must be considered and addressed.
The nations of Europe, as independent sovereign states, ultimately will determine their own course in how to tackle this challenge. But they have a responsibility as members of the European community and as good neighbors, to be mindful of the vulnerabilities and issues that arise from their decisions.
We have seen a recent wave of terrorism rock many of the great cities of Europe. This threat is very much linked to the wave of refugees and migrants coming from conflict zones in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.
While many of the perpetrators of these attacks were European citizens and second or third generation immigrants, the massive flow of new migrants has created a challenge in tracking suspected extremists as they move to and from distant war zones.
As many as 5,000 EU citizens have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS or other terrorist groups, and it is estimated that 30 percent of these individuals have returned to Europe.
Intelligence sharing and security cooperation among our European allies and ourselves is key to capturing returning foreign fighters and thwarting homegrown attacks. But developing ways to integrate migrant populations into their new European societies is important as well.
Having entire communities that are isolated or not assimilated to their new countries sets the stage for radicalization and unrest. European nations are in their right to enforce the rule of law and control their borders.
Meanwhile they should also find ways to absorb and welcome migrants who have legally joined their nations. A nation is not a nation without laws, borders, and an engaged citizenry.
Where we can, we must help our European friends to address this migrant crisis. Either through sharing of intelligence, building capacity, or addressing the source of the migrant crisis in the trouble regions of the world.
As allies, it is our duty to support our European friends whatever the challenge. History has shown us that our fates are inevitably linked.
And that’s just the way it is.