By Andrea Huerfano, ILRF intern
International migration has been mainly, an effect of forced social and economic forces among them wars, exploitation and unemployment. While at the same time, globalization and international economic processes have encouraged this process. Legally or illegally, people around the world have always sought better jobs; making this, a global political issue.
Despite barriers imposed by countries around the world to control international movement of people, the number of international migrants is highly varied and inexact. Regardless of statistics, it is evident that the numbers of people involved in migration are enormous, and constantly increasing, and that this is not a phenomenon limited to a specific region or country; but rather an issue that includes a vast number of people, far beyond any estimates available.
The numbers of people involved in international migration, and the range of places from which they come and to which they go, are vast. For instance Nowadays, Nepalese migrants go to Japan, Southern Africans go to South Africa, Mexicans come to the United States, and so forth.
There is another dilemma in international migration, and that is, the frequent assumption that all migrants are poor people, who move to seek a better economic situation elsewhere. But not all who move are poor, an example is the contract labor in the Middle East from other countries, who are often middle-class people, as well the case of recent immigrants to the United States, which include highly educated professionals.
It is important to understand the importance of migration, because it both has, causes and consequences. Not only people move from one country to another, but also, they have ties with the people that live where they left and the country they move to, creating a new sort of social organization. This organization, have implications in the way resources are shared; having effects in the political and economic sectors.
Reforms in those sectors that are taking place around the world have
brought new importance to the migration issue. For instance,
policy-makers around the world are showing more interest at this issue,
creating a greater willingness to bring this issue to the core of
policy dialogue and international cooperation.
For instance, recent concerns about international migration stem from two major factors. First, the increasing globalization of economic networks and the rapid population in the developing countries, have led to increased pressures towards emigration.
Even though there have been many suggestions for a solution to international migration, it is important to stress that, rather than a single policy approach, this issue, due to its complexibity, needs a combination of policies.
While some people advocate for tougher immigration policies, as long as people not only experience poverty, but also are exploited or harassed in developing countries, and there is a need for work force in the developed countries, this is not going to be the solution to this issue. Instead there are a number of plans that perhaps could help to achieve a balance of migration. Like, industrialization of developing countries. This strategy could benefit, both the developed and the developing countries, for instance it would create jobs in developing countries, while the developed countries would get cheaper goods.
Although industrialization could be a good way to decrease migration, it is important to know, that this cannot be achieved by itself, in other words, it is obvious that even if developing countries oriented their economies towards industrialization, little to nothing could be achieved as long as some issues are not resolved.
For instance, governments in developed countries not only need to emphasize the need for a fair trade system, in which not only tariffs for products coming from developing countries are eliminated, but a system of accountability, in which human and labor rights are protected in the developing countries. If workers that produce pineapple in Costa Rica, melons in Honduras, or garments in Mexico get fair wages, are able to organize labor unions; then they would most likely experience an improvement in their quality of life and would not have the need to risk their life by migrating to another country in hopes of greater economic prosperity.
Another approach towards migration is foreign aid; perhaps some people would like to see a massive increase in foreign aid. In reality, it feeds the starving but does little to develop economies in the developing world, making people migrate. There are no strong connections between aid and economic growth in developing countries. Perhaps, some countries have received little but have done well, while others have received a lot of aid but have done poorly.
Perhaps, one controversial policy that could improve the migration issue, that is: open borders. While this may seem ridiculous, there are important reasons that could support this policy. For instance, there are jobs in the developed world, whose aging work force many times cannot staff. By allowing a system of “freer” migration, developed countries would not only be able to fulfill these jobs, but a system with these characteristics would also offer the type of warranties needed to ensure that minimum labor standards are met. For instance people often complain about how undocumented immigrants take jobs of the American people, however they do not realize or rather acknowledge the different violations that these people encounter at their workplace; how often do people that argue against illegal migration comment about the abuses, harassment, intimidation that this workers face everyday?
It is important to mention that those kinds of jobs are not only in the agricultural sector, but also in areas where skilled labor is necessary. Prove of this are the incentives that countries such as Germany and Great Britain are giving to skilled workers in order for them to migrate to these countries. Other benefits of having open borders perhaps is that it helps developing countries, through remittances, which are relatively bigger, more efficient, and less corrupt than foreign aid.
Another way, in which the opening of borders could help developing countries, is, by allowing people from developing countries to go to developed countries, and obtain skills in certain areas, while still being connected to their home country, they eventually they could go back to their countries and lead to the development of their home economies.
The movement of migration not only might lead towards a more balanced social and economic situation around the world and not only helps the developed countries to alleviate their current demographic problems, such as an aging population, and low birth rates, but it also gives the developing countries a chance to climb the economic ladder, due to remittances, and the eventual possibility of acquiring high level of skills.