Officials see them as cruel exploiters of human misery: criminals, traffickers, predators. Indeed, many policymakers seem to suggest that if only we crack down on smugglers, refugee crises would be solved. Popular culture—including through Oscar-nominated documentaries—glorifies Greek and Italian Coast Guards and other anti-smuggler agents as saviors from the machinations of evil smugglers. Syrian migrants have a different view.
As debate on the European migrant crisis shifts from the voyage of migrants and their initial arrival in Europe to the long-term experiences of migrants in host countries, we must reexamine the issue of organized crime and forced migration.