Jeremiah Gatlin

Jeremiah is a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. At Fletcher he seeks to understand how international and domestic law impact the migration process within West Africa and the various strategies that migrants utilize throughout their journeys. Originally from Wisconsin, he received his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. After college, Jeremiah volunteered with AmeriCorps as an Employment & Education Navigator at CAPI USA in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he worked with immigrants and refugees to better understand the US job market, access trainings, and develop the skills necessary to achieve their career goals. After AmeriCorps he volunteered with Peace Corps Guinea for two years as an Agroforestry Extension Agent. During this period Jeremiah developed working relationships within his host community to support the creation of a cashew cooperative. Jeremiah hopes to continue learning and growing in order to appropriately and effectively support migrant communities within and from West Africa.

European Policies Put Migrants in Danger

13 Jul

It would be misleading to focus on the motivating factors that contribute to Senegalese youths’ decisions to migrate without also addressing the culpability of Europeans who inhibit migrants from safely traveling and arriving in their countries of destination. Restrictive migration policies and militarized border controls have made it nearly impossible for most Senegalese to migrate to Europe through regular channels. 

Migration within West Africa remains a vital economic adaptation strategy for Senegalese youth. The lack of opportunity in Senegal pushes many to take their chance migrating to Europe, and EU policies have done little to stop this trend. Instead, these policies have just made migrating more costly and more dangerous for most. As of 2019, over 10% of migrants died attempting to secure financial stability for their families in Europe.

Despite this reality, Europe continues to invest in problematic governance campaigns and top-down development projects in an attempt to stymie migrant flows. International migration entities, such as IOM and UNHCR, focus on reducing the dangers for those seeking refuge or a better opportunity to support their families, but they fail to focus on the root cause of this danger—the externalization and securitization of borders that intentionally exclude migrants. 

The European Union Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) stands as a prime example of this problematic externalization and development strategy. Implemented between 2015 and 2020, the EUTF prioritized border management and increased governance in countries of origin. This initiative did little to facilitate or open up opportunities for Senegalese youth to migrate to Europe or seek better opportunities, especially those with less education. Instead, the EUTF attempted to make strict migration policies a priority in countries like Senegal through governance and border control programs. 

Local Senegalese organizations criticize European migration policies, arguing they exacerbate irregular migration since Senegalese migrants continue to adapt their migration strategies around stricter policies. Such policies threaten to stymie regional migration, destabilize regional economic growth, reduce resiliency, and exacerbate dangerous and irregular migration channels to Europe. 

The EU presented a New Pact on Migration and Asylum in September 2020. It seeks to bolster bilateral agreements between the EU and African countries to “improve” migration management within countries. What is troubling about the New Pact is that it further shifts focus away from development and facilitating migration, emphasizing migration management and border control instead. It also threatens countries into compliance by blackmailing countries that refuse to adopt bilateral agreements with the EU on regulating and controlling migration—reducing or eliminating their visa programs. 

Migration remains a highly politicized issue within Europe. Any policy that seeks to increase migration management and border security will inevitably inhibit migrants from migrating safely, pushing them into precarious situations of irregular migration. Unfortunately, it is the migrants, themselves, who suffer from this politicization. So long as Europe refuses to address their complicity in creating the dangerous conditions in which migrants find themselves, migrants will continue to die. 

Posted By Jeremiah Gatlin

Posted Jul 13th, 2021


  • Iain Guest

    July 16, 2021


    Another interesting blog with a central thesis – that the harsh and restrictive policies by receiving countries deters migrants from seeking safe migration options. This raises a ton of questions – for example, was there a tradition of regular migration from the villages you’ve worked in before the EU started to impose restrictions? perhaps worth inquiring. (BTW, your para on US policies towards the end is a bit unclear!) All round, good stuff!

  • Matthew Nyanplu

    July 19, 2021


    What should Europe and US do to make more humane their migration policies? I am from Africa and I have been very concerned about the push factors taking our people across the Mediterranean, and also the inhibitions against them in European countries. Yet our people do not stop going. They believe Europe and America hold the answers to the economic hardships that many of our people flee. But the citizens of those European countries as well as the United States have well founded fears and concerns that, if a floodgate were to be open, migrants would pour into their countries and sap away their resources making life even worse than it is. Will humane EU and US border policies do it, or should African Governments adopt more humane governance policies and programs that invest in these young people and make economic migration less attractive?

  • Iain Guest

    July 31, 2021


    I think Jeremiah is arguing that trying to persuade people not to leave, even through well-meaning development programs – will not work because there are so many other factors working in the other direction. This particularly applies when it comes to sectors like fishing in countries like Senegal which are bombarded by many different pressures and cannot be salvaged through one-off projects. The free movement of people – one of the cornerstones of international peace and development – is seriously out of whack after Syria, Trump and now the pandemic. It will take a lot to find the right balance. In the meantime, we need to invest in communities and help them find some answers. Interesting and important discussion…..

  • Jeremiah Gatlin

    August 3, 2021


    Thanks for the comments! I certainly agree that the issue is complex and requires honest changes from both Europe and countries such as Senegal. I believe that countries should do a better job at providing the opportunities and resources necessary for their citizens. I also believe that migration has been a consistent and vital practice throughout the course of human history and people should have the right to move as they see fit. I don’t think that humane border policies will change migration trends, but there are social and cultural components to these decisions that are not factored into this discussion as well. The “waves” or “floods” of migrants are typically more hyperbole than reality, as are the negative consequences associated with migration. I think the ECOWAS’s Dakar Protocol of 1979, which seeks to ensure the free movement of people and goods within the region, stands as an ambitious and worthwhile endeavor that exemplifies the positive impact that migration can play in fostering development and opportunity. Unfortunately, EU migration policies and investment seem to undermine these regional efforts. Efforts should be made to facilitate and expand access to this opportunity for the benefit of both parties. This could be regionally, globally, short-term, and long-term.

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