Sometimes in the most unfortunate of situations an economy can get a significant boost. For example, World War II as a whole helped the United States (at least partially) work its way out of the Great Depression. As the economy of the world has been in a downswing for the last few years, there seems to be a new slight “boost” to the economy of Turkey due to the refugee crisis across the Middle East. What is happening in a nutshell is that refugees seeking to leave the crisis areas across the Middle East are reached by smugglers in Turkey and then paid to get multiple refugees across borders into Turkey so that they can then be moved into Europe. Likewise, visually one could see just from walking around Turkey that stores are lined now with inflatable rafts and life jackets and that the taxis and buses are specifically transporting refugees to port areas where they can be launched into Europe. In theory, Turkey is acting as the middle man for immigration into Europe during this refugee crisis.
There are many layers to this new “shadow-economy” that has developed in Turkey due to immigration. The first is that simply, independent businesses are flourishing by selling products that help refugees such as life vests and rafts. As would be in the United States with a mostly free market economy, this would be perfectly legal as it is simply businesses selling individual, legal products even though they may be used for illegal purposes and really is at no fault of the business owners. This would be the “good” part of this economic boost as money is flowing into the working economy, with taxes and such going to the Turkish government. Another layer to this new economy is that there is almost a black market component. Criminal rings getting into the smuggling business are thriving on this new refugee crisis. Many times the government is actually paid off to turn a blind eye when this type of activity is going on and therefore these criminal groups continue to flourish. This leads to the final layer to this new economy which is the government and their involvement. While the Turkish government has laws in place and has claimed that they have done everything they can to stop illegal immigration coming through their country, this seems to be an indication of conflicting evidence. Even outside of this new shadow-economy, Turkey has been accused of actually supplying and aiding refugee migration into Europe.
While corruption by the government seems to happen in virtually every country worldwide, this aiding or at the least willful negligence of illegal immigration passing through the Turkish borders is a major issue that one would think should never happen there, here in the United States, or anywhere around the world. In the United States specifically there are laws against aiding or harboring illegal immigrants. This in theory is to help illegal immigration into the United States as there does not seem to be as big of a “pass through” of illegal immigration like in Turkey. In Turkey, there are laws against the harboring and aiding of illegal immigrants, but because this seems to apply to the citizens and the government is the one that allegedly has had a hand in this, international orders are necessary. In 2003 the Turkish grand national assembly accepted the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Additional Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air. Whether they have adhered to these protocols are up for debate, but with the emergence of this new economy there may be a new way for Turkey to indirectly aid immigration into Europe. The very existence of this economy is likely to last as long as there is no serious stop to it by either the Turkish government or the end of the refugee crisis altogether. With no end in sight to the crisis, this shadow economy seems to be set in place for the near future at least.
* Alec Roberson is a third year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law and hopes to practice in sports, trust and estate planning, or tax law after graduation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.