How does Europe unload the risk?
The migration crisis roiling American and European political scene is partly a risk crisis. As Mark Salter and Can Mutlu of the Center for European Policy Studies note the visa and asylum policies of most countries, including the EU Schengen area, are based around the risk/return calculation of allowing travel from a particular country. The "return" component is the assumed benefit conferred by allowing the movement of capital, goods, services and persons. The "risk" part consist of the degree of liability or danger they may present to the receiving country. As long as the return outweighs the expected risk the visitor is admitted.
This risk-assessment process takes place on two levels: first, national-level risks of waiving visas are measured by economic, political and social indicators such as the GDP, unemployment levels, political system, ethnic violence etc. The second level focuses on the individual travellers by separating those about whom nothing is known, or nothing good is known, and facilitating the quick and easy movement of those travellers about whom many good things are known. Visa ... programmes require continuous assessment of these two levels.
Most authorities lack individual-level information and rely on national-level ratings to decide visa policy. All EU citizens used to be able to travel to Canada visa-free until "the increase in numbers of asylum seekers claiming to be of Roma origin from the Czech Republic travelling to Canada [made] the Canadian government unilaterally re-impose ... visas on Czech citizens [in 2009]." When the Canadians detected a change in national-level ratings they changed border policy.
Before the refugee crisis the European the Schengen area had an implicit internal border policy based on the risk presented by the basket of nationalities of its member nations. At the second level the EU had individual traveler information no one else had. "What is different about the Schengen zone ... is ... the ‘behind-the-scenes’ ... Schengen Information System (SIS)" .
The Schengen Information System (SIS) is a highly efficient large-scale information system that supports external border control and law enforcement cooperation in the Schengen States. The SIS enables competent authorities, such as police and border guards, to enter and consult alerts on certain categories of wanted or missing persons and objects. An SIS alert not only contains information about a particular person or object but also clear instructions on what to do when the person or object has been found. Specialised national SIRENE Bureaux serve as single points of contact for any supplementary information exchange and coordination of activities related to SIS alerts.
The EU's virtual internal borders were based on biometrics, data fusion and facial recognition technology to control the movement of people. This was potentially intrusive but the public was assured that "all of this will be carried out with the strictest respect for the human dignity and integrity of the person".