Migration and the Threat of Xenophobia

The migration issue in the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the world has become a moral issue camouflaged by nationalism and xenophobia. In the words of United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration, Peter Sutherland,  “…this is not just a European issue, we’ve seen this in the Andaman Sea, in Asia […] in movements from Latin American into North America.” He goes on to also note, “We have to have a greater understanding of the positive values that the migrant communities are bringing to countries who badly need them.” What Sutherland suggests is that there are countries with low population growth that could benefit from an influx of immigrants, and according to him;

“…migrants in general, and in every country in Europe, make greater fiscal contribution than they take in benefits. They have lower levels of unemployment, and in general a greater interest in education. They do not contribute to the current narrative creat[ing] terrorist threats in large numbers. The handful of those who have been involved in terrorism in Europe have in general been born and brought up in Europe.”

It is understandable that developed states are concerned about allowing in refugees on the grounds of national security, however if what Sutherland suggests is true about home grown terrorists rather than those coming in from developing countries then there is indeed a response taking place on behalf of European countries that is based in stereotypes and xenophobia. In many cases the argument arises that immigrants will only take much-needed jobs from natural born citizens and accept lower pay, much like the argument against Mexican immigrants in the United States. Although this can easily appear to be the case, often the jobs that immigrants receive in North America are lower paying agricultural jobs that most Americans themselves do not want. In this case, immigrants become a much-needed resource in an important industry (i.e., agriculture).

The future of immigration will either be filled with more travel restrictions or free travel between nations. Hopefully it will be more like the latter. Security will always be an important issue and the protection of nations will hold top priority but that does not necessarily mean that people ought to be treated as less just because they are from a different place, have different beliefs, or are thought to be a certain way because of preconceived notions. Everyone has the right to equal opportunity and to the same quality and quantity of help. Maybe this is too idealistic of an idea but then again, all we can do is hope and work towards the best possible outcomes.