Two decades into the 21st century, both the European Union and the United States have faced considerable challenges in managing migration and borders. Globally, the number of international migrants has grown considerably, reaching 281 million as of 2020. And large-scale irregular migration has strained the infrastructure, legal systems, and often the social and political fabric of the nations encountering it.
This personal reflection, written by a former high-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, examines the strategic lessons that can be learned from recent migration events that have severely stressed border authorities in North America and Europe. Among the topics it explores are: the changing nature of borders and how nation states enforce them; the value of networks and cooperation within government, internationally, and with nongovernmental partners; the challenges of migrant smuggling and trafficking; and the importance of messaging and advanced preparation.