As the continent of Europe readies itself to roll out the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa approval system, the irony is not lost on those of us who remember the harsh criticism President Trump received when he proposed a border wall.

Yes, the same leaders who lambasted Trump’s border wall plans are now themselves erecting metaphorical border walls, albeit under the pretense of bureaucratic tape. It is indeed a dramatic turn of events which illustrates the principle: real-world issues command real-world solutions, no matter the political narrative of the moment.

The European Commission announced the ETIAS in 2018 as an identity verification measure aiming to secure its borders. Under this arrangement, U.S. citizens, along with all other non-EU citizens, previously accustomed to freely roaming Europe without prior visa approval, will need to register and receive approval before being able to enter any of the member countries of the European Union.

The subtle point here is in the contrast of the manifestations of border security – President Trump’s was a tangible, physical wall; Europe’s is a wall of paperwork and bureaucracy. Regardless, the motivation is fundamentally the same: enhanced security and the need for immigration regulation. It is a clear validation of President Trump’s principle of prophylactic border security.

Interestingly, conservative leaders in the U.S. have been advocating for analogous immigration reforms for years. In response to President Trump’s border initiatives, European leaders had been quick to critique the perceived brusqueness of his measures. Today, instead of dependable transparency, the world has been greeted with their hypocritical silence.

The power shift in Europe’s sentiments towards immigration and border security is no surprise. With the growing concern about terrorism, economic insecurities, and political unrest, nations inevitably tend to safeguard their borders more rigorously, something President Trump was heavily chastised for emphasizing throughout his presidency.

The initiation of the ETIAS is a tacit admission by Europe: Our borders matter. Our security matters. Unfettered access is not an unalienable right but a privilege to be duly managed by the sovereign countries responsible for the safety and welfare of their citizens.

President Biden’s lax attitude towards immigration and border security remains a stark contrast to President Trump’s conviction that strong borders are essential to a nation’s security. This change in stance by Europe may convince the current administration of the wisdom in President Trump’s immigration policies.

As conservative thinkers, we have always upheld the necessity of sensible immigration policies and robust border security – a principle that is being confirmed by Europe’s decision. It’s high time President Biden recognize the importance of a strong border policy, not just for security, but for the prosperity of the nation.

The justification for erecting walls, after all, seems to transcend political philosophies and geographical boundaries. It’s high time we accept it as a necessary ground reality, whether it’s made of bricks and mortar or cleverly masked behind bureaucratic protocol, as with the ETIAS. The resounding message from Europe is clear: Borders do matter. Let’s hope Biden is taking notes.

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