New legislation will tighten immigration control, beef up SA’s borders

The International migration white paper is set to make its way to parliament in March and will tackle important issues around asylum seekers and immigration. Minister Malusi Gigaba believes the new bill will further protect genuine asylum seekers while closing legal loopholes currently exploited by some migrants.

Former South African government minister and current President of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, slammed President Donald Trump in a hard-hitting address. She said: “The very country to which many of our people were taken as slaves during the transatlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,” adding that the travel ban was “one of the greatest challenges to our unity and solidarity.”

All very well, but not only has South Africa had its own immigration crisis in recent years where immigrants from neighbouring countries were attacked and killed in waves of ‘xenophobic violence‘, but this week Dlamini-Zuma’s own government announced a crackdown on immigration and tighter border controls, even as anti-immigrant violence flared up again.

It is important to remember that South Africa holds the same socio-economic position in Southern Africa as the United States does in North America. It is viewed as an economic and cultural powerhouse towards which economic migrants and refugees from less fortunate neighbouring countries are drawn. South Africans enthusiastically joined in the global anti-Trump protests last month, but this month the only ones appearing to be protesting are those attacking immigrants to their own country.

But these questions linger: If the world is suddenly so concerned about issues of travel bans and border controls, will they protest against South Africa, or is it only a global issue when it concerns American domestic policies? Will Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s government be condemned in terms as strong as the ones she used to rail against Donald Trump? Of course we know the answer is ‘no’. And the more the American electorate get the feeling – not unreasonably – that their country is being singled out unfairly for criticism of policies enforced even by their critics, the more reason they will have to vote for Donald Trump again in four years time.