migration of peopleDr. Ermitte Saint Jacques is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida. Her primary focus is the transnational migration of people and globalization. Dr. Jacques sat down with the Borgen Project to discuss the state of the migration of people and some of the misconceptions that follow in their paths.

Limited Economic Opportunities

Dr. Ermitte Saint Jacques has found in her research that the migration of people provides benefits for both the migrants and the countries involved. “Many people migrate for a livelihood,” said Dr. Jacques. “If people can’t seek a livelihood in their own country, they travel abroad.” Migration enables people to maximize their opportunities. When prospects aren’t working out in one country, they have the capability to go to the next.

Many migrants return to their home countries after finding successful jobs; it’s often seasonal and not permanent. For example, in 2017, 4.4 million people immigrated to a country within the European Union. Of that, two million migrants were from non-EU countries. However, more than three million reported leaving the EU that same year. As of Jan. 1, 2017, non-EU immigrants made up only 4.2 percent of the EU population.

Supply and Demand

Businesses demand the need for workers, and migrants fulfill some of these demands. “It’s important to recognize the contribution immigrants have,” said Dr. Jacques. “Some immigrants come to open businesses, some come to be laborers.” Often, those who are here as laborers, fulfill an important function that might otherwise go unfilled. Many misconceptions about laborers revolve around them taking important jobs from citizens or living off of government aid.

“We need to push back against the rhetoric of migrants coming to steal work, get on welfare, etc.,” said Dr. Jacques. “Everything can cross borders except people, and that’s very problematic. Mobility for people is a problem.” Dr. Jacques hopes more countries will follow suit with the European Union’s policy on open borders and the Schengen Agreement. Signed in 1985, the Schengen Agreement eliminates internal borders to enable migrants to travel freely among countries in search of economic opportunities. Only four of the 26 members of the Schengen Agreement are not part of the EU.

Poverty and Migration

Poverty poses a problem in that it hinders many people’s ability to migrate because they simply don’t have the funds to leave. So, impoverished people often lack the opportunities that migration offers. People who don’t have the resources to migrate either need a social network that can provide access to the ability to migrate or they must enter a cyclical travel and work pattern. They travel as far as they can and work for a bit before traveling again until they finally end up where they want to be.

“We are not talking about people fleeing turmoil or fearing for their life,” said Dr. Jacques. “They are not refugees or seeking asylum. They are typically economic migrants seeking work.” Migrants are different than immigrants. Immigrants move from one country to another to live; whereas migrants typically move from one country to another for economic reasons, and often, the move is temporary.

People emerge from poverty by seeking better opportunities elsewhere, and migration enables them to do so. It is an investment for those who are struggling. “Migration is necessary for people to escape from the horrendous cycle of poverty and finally be able to maintain a livelihood,” said Dr. Jacques. The more people understand about the migration of people, the easier it will be to dispell the misconceptions.

Jodie Filenius

Photo: Flickr

Crisis in VenezuelaIn March 2013, after a 14-year rule, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died of cancer. He was succeeded by Vice President Nicolas Maduro. Since then, the oil-rich but cash-poor South American country has been in a political and economic crisis. Here are 10 things you should know about the crisis in Venezuela.

10 Things to Know About the Crisis in Venezuela

  1. Inflation rates are at an all-time high. The biggest problem in the day-to-day lives of Venezuelans is due to the record high inflation rates. Throughout the Chavez presidency, the inflation rate had fluctuated between 10 and 40 percent but never higher. Since Maduro took office inflation rates have grown exponentially. In 2018, the inflation rate hit 1.3 million percent and is projected to reach 10 million in 2019. With inflation being so high, it becomes impossible for Venezuelans to buy basic necessities.
  2. Minimum wage is as low as $6 a month. On top of the high inflation rate, the minimum wage is now $6 dollars a month. Nearly 90 percent of the country’s population is living in poverty and unable to buy basic goods. Additionally, the number of active companies in Venezuela has dropped dramatically, minimizing the number of jobs available to citizens.
  3. More than 3 million people have fled the country. Over the last five years, the crisis in Venezuela has forced more than 3 million people out of their homes. Most of these refugees have claimed that the lack of rights to health and food were among the main reasons for them to leave. These migrants, who made up roughly 10 percent of the Venezuelan population, have fled to neighboring countries including Chile, Colombia and Brazil.
  4. There are currently two presidents. Since 2019 started, political tensions in Venezuela have escalated. In early January, President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term, following an election period of boycotts and opposition. The results of this election led to a new wave of rallies throughout the streets of Venezuela, particularly the capital city of Caracas. These boycotts culminated with the elected leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Juan Guaido, naming himself interim president.
  5. The rest of the world is very split over who to support. The most unique part about Guaido declaring himself interim president is that several countries around the world immediately acknowledged it as legitimate. The United States, much of Europe and several South American countries recognize Guaido as the rightful interim president of Venezuela. However, Russia, China and most of the Middle East still recognize Maduro as the president. Additionally, some countries, including Italy, are calling for a new election to determine the rightful president.
  6. Oil output has declined dramatically. Venezuela has over 300 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, making it a leader amongst the world’s oil-rich countries. Oil production dropped in 2002 after Chavez was first elected, but soon after, it rose back up to regular rates and has been steady since. Since 2012, however, there has been a consistent decrease in oil output. In January 2019, President Trump announced that the U.S. will not import oil from Venezuela for the time being, in hopes that economic pressure will lead to correcting the political crisis.
  7. There have been countless mass protests across the country. The crisis in Venezuela has sparked riots and rallies across the whole country. In 2018 alone, there were more than 12 thousand protests, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict. These protests, starting in 2002 after Chavez came to power, have only escalated in violence since.
  8. Officials have resorted to excessive use of force. In April of 2017, Maduro ordered armed forces to put a stop to what had been weeks of anti-government protests. In the two months to follow, more than 120 people were killed, 2,000 were injured and more than 5,000 were detained. Since then, multiple citizens have been killed or injured when police and protesters have clashed.
  9. Maduro’s administration denies that it is in a human rights crisis. Despite the statistics pointing to the crisis in Venezuela, Maduro and his administration have not acknowledged the human rights crisis. Additionally, the administration has not recognized the shortages of food and medication, and, as a result, it has not accepted international humanitarian assistance. Despite the lack of official recognition, the current state of Venezuela has been regarded as the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory in the Western Hemisphere.
  10. The crisis is taking a toll on the overall health of the country. Since 2014, the number of malaria cases in Venezuela has more than quadrupled. After years of remaining steadily below 100 thousand cases, there are now more than 400 thousand people living in Venezuela with malaria. This is because there is a dramatic shortage of anti-malaria drugs for all strains. Medical facilities are struggling with a shortage of 85 percent for medications. At least 13 thousand Venezuelan doctors were among those who have fled the country. A lack of proper medical care is making the people of Venezuela more susceptible to treatable diseases such as tuberculosis.

The crisis in Venezuela is worsening by the day. There are countless people being forced to leave their homes, jobs and families in hopes of finding a safer place to live. While the country awaits political intervention and foreign aid, there are still ways for people overseas to give help. Many nonprofit organizations, including The Better World Campaign, are doing their part in helping the humanitarian crisis. These groups are always looking for volunteers and donations. Spreading the word about the situation in Venezuela, raising awareness and mobilizing others to donate is also a great way to help, even from afar.

Charlotte Kriftcher
Photo: Flickr

Worker Remittances and Poverty in the Arab World
The Arab world has one of the highest proportions of migrant to local workers in the world, with over 32 million migrant workers in the Arab states in 2015 alone. In addition, the region has one of the largest diasporas in the world. This means that many skilled workers are emigrating to wealthier countries and sending money home via remittances. But what do remittances in the Arab World mean for the region and its inhabitants?

Brain Drain vs. Gain

In Lebanon and Jordan, unskilled labor is provided by growing numbers of refugees and foreign workers, totaling over five million in 2015. However, as more foreign workers enter the country, growing numbers of high-skilled Lebanese and Jordanian nationals are emigrating. This often occurs when opportunities are limited, when unemployment is high and economic growth slows. The phenomenon is dubbed ‘brain drain’ as opposed to ‘brain gain’, whereby an increasing stock of human capital boosts economies. A drain occurs while poor countries lose their most high-skilled workers and wealthier countries in turn gain these educated professionals.

Remittances in the Arab World

These expatriates commonly work to improve their own living situations while also helping to support their friends and families. This is where remittances come into play. As defined by the Migration Data Portal, remittances are financial or in-kind transfers made by migrants to friends and relatives in their communities of origin. Remittances often exceed official development aid.  They are also frequently more effective in alleviating poverty. In 2014 alone, the Arab states remitted more than $109 billion, largely from the United States followed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

There is no denying that remittances can be a strong driving force for the socioeconomic stability of many Arab countries. But not all the influences are positive. Some experts argue that remittances can actually hurt the development of recipient countries. Their arguments cite potential negative effects of labor mobility and over-reliance on remittances. They emphasize that this can create dependency which undermines recipients’ incentive to find work. All this means an overall slowing of economic growth and a perpetuation of current socioeconomic status.

The Force of the Diaspora

The link between remittances in the Arab world and poverty is clear. Brain drain perpetuates and high amounts of remittance inflow and outflow persist if living conditions remain unchanged. Policymakers are therefore focusing efforts on enticing emigrants to return to their countries of origin. By strengthening ties with migrant networks, and implementing strategies like entrepreneurial start-up incentives and talent plans, the initial negative effects of brain drain could be curbed.

Overall, though brain drain and remittances can seem to hurt development in the short-term, if policies can draw high-skilled workers back, contributions to long-term economic development can erase these negative aspects altogether. Young populations that have emigrated to more developed countries acquire education and valuable experience that is essential to promote entrepreneurship in their home countries. Moreover, their experiences in advanced democracies can bolster their contribution to improved governance in their countries of origin. The Arab world’s greatest untapped potential is its diaspora, and it could be the key to a more prosperous future, if only it can be harnessed.

Natalie Marie Abdou
Photo: Flickr

al otro ladoMore than 4,000 asylum seekers in Tijuana have written their names on a waitlist in hopes of presenting themselves at the U.S. port of entry. It is unclear how the list began since the U.S. government doesn’t claim jurisdiction and neither does Mexico. Regardless, the waitlists are followed and migrants’ names are slowly crossed off as they are brought to state their cases. Most asylum-seekers are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, many of whom are fleeing gang violence, political instability and extreme poverty. Al Otro Lado and other nonprofits are helping the migrant crisis.

The Migrant Crisis

Central Americans from the caravan have been labeled everything from refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants to invaders, aliens and criminals. However, despite widespread disagreement and confusion about the caravan, U.S. immigration and international laws dictate that people have the legal right to seek asylum. Asylum seekers’ have the right to present their cases to an immigration officer, but with so many asylum-seekers to process, thousands of individuals and families are left waiting in limbo.

As Policy Analyst at the American Immigration Council Aaron Reichlin-Melnick explains, “The government would argue that high [asylum] denial rates indicate they’re fraudulent asylum claims… the more likely answer is that people are genuinely afraid for their lives–they may not know the ins and outs of a complex asylum system.” For many nonprofits, the situation is clearly a refugee crisis, and they treat it like one. Since caravans began arriving at the border, humanitarian organizations have been on the ground providing shelter, medical care and legal assistance. This is one way that Al Otro Lado is helping.

Al Otro Lado

Al Otro Lado is a legal services nonprofit based in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tijuana. Over the last four months, Al Otro Lado has helped more than 2,000 migrants in Tijuana while also fighting larger battles to protect the legal rights of asylum seekers. Operating out of an Enclave Caracol, a three-story community center turned migrant shelter, Al Otro Lado provides legal orientation and know-your-rights training to asylum seekers waiting in Tijuana.

Though Al Otro Lado is focused on upholding international and U.S. law, it is not immune to the controversy and violence that has accompanied the migrant caravan. The organization and its staff have received death threats, and co-directors Erika Pineiro and Nora Phillips were detained and forced to leave Mexico in January. Still, Al Otro Lado continues their operations in Tijuana, but now they just unplug their phones between calls to cut down on the death threats.

Other Notable Organizations Helping the Migrant Crisis

  1. In April 2018, Food Not Bombs served food to migrants out of the Enclave Caracol community center. They accepted donations of food, spices and reusable plates among other items.
  2. UNICEF works with the Mexican government to provide safe drinking water and other necessities to asylum seekers. The organization also provides psychosocial services and trains authorities on child protection.
  3. Save the Children provides emergency services, legal representation, case management and works to reunite migrant families.
  4. Amnesty International, like Al Otro Lado, is concerned with upholding immigration law. The organization monitors the actions of Mexican authorities at the border and also documents the situations and conditions that migrants face.

Organizations like Al Otro Lado, Save the Children and Amnesty International see the migrant caravan as a humanitarian issue beyond party politics. They have wasted no time supporting migrants and asylum-seekers who have risked their lives journeying to the border. However, unless governments and organizations address the larger issues that led the people to leave in the first place, they will continue migrating. Faced with violence, persecution and poverty, it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t do the same.

Kate McIntosh

Photo: Flickr

Organizations Helping Climate Refugees
In 2017, nearly 18 million people were displaced due to natural disasters. This was roughly 7 million more than there were people displaced by violence or conflict. This number is also expected to grow to 143 million people by 2050 if actions are not taken against climate change.

All of these people represent climate refugees. They represent a growing phenomenon that lacks a formal definition.

There are several nongovernmental organizations that are working to help these people. In the text below, top organizations helping climate refugees are presented.

Climate Refugees

Climate Refugees is an organization that aims to raise awareness about climate refugees through field reports and social media. With the information that they have gathered, Climate Refugees meets with governments and the United Nations to prioritize policies that protect climate refugees.

In 2017, they released their first field report on the connection between climate change and displacement in the Lake Chad Basin.

The Environmental Justice Foundation

The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is one of the many organizations helping climate refugees. It works to help create a more sustainable world through film and photography. The EJF started in 2000 and is based in eight countries around the world.

The EJF also provides activist training that helps the organization research and document human rights abuses. The EJF directs it work towards climate refugees in several ways and one of the most prominent is through video.

It released one video titled “Falling Through the Cracks,” that explains what climate refugees are, why they matter and how to help solve the growing problem of climate refugees.

The EJF also released an exhibition on climate refugees and their stories. Both of these projects aim to humanize the effects of climate change.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Founded in 1950, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) works to protect and advocate for refugees around the world. The UNHCR works in 128 countries around the world and has helped 50 million refugees find a new life since its creation.

The UNHCR started its work with climate change and disaster displacement in the 1990s but expanded its scope in 2000s due to the growing need of working with climate refugees.

The organization’s work is broken down into four categories: operational practices, legal development, policy coherence and research.

Since 1999 the UNHCR was involved in 43 disasters that led to the displacement of people. The range of what UNHCR provided depended on the country and disaster.

International Organization for Migration

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is an intergovernmental organization that works to ensure a process of migration that recognizes human rights around the world.

Since 1998, IOM worked on nearly 1,000 projects responding to migration due to environmental disasters. In 2015, the IOM founded the Migration, Environment and Climate Change Division (MECC), that specifically focuses on the connection between climate change and displacement.

MECC works in several countries around the world including Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. In all of these countries, MECC is working on research that tracks climate-related migration.

This research will help the IOM support policy development, in order to directly address the needs of climate refugees.

Refugees International

Refugees International (RI) is an independent organization that works to advocate for refugees through reports and analyzes. The organization analyses work done by other nongovernmental organizations and governments.

It works in 14 countries and climate displacement is one of the two issues that RI dedicates itself to. One of the main efforts that RI does to help climate refugees is conducting fieldwork every year. The data that is collected from this work is then used to lobby policymakers and aid agencies that help climate refugees.

While the climate refugee still lack a formal definition and while their number is expected to expand in the next 40 years, there are still several organizations helping climate refugees and ensuring that their voices and needs are heard.

Among others, the most important organizations that tackle this issue are Climate Refugees, the Environmental Justice Foundation, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration and Refugees International.

– Drew Garbe
Photo: Flickr

Addressing the Root Causes of Emigration from MexicoEarlier this year, the United States encountered a humanitarian crisis at the border with Mexico that referred to the separation of immigrant parents and children. This is one of many tactics for deterring migrants from entering the country. However, this does not address the root causes of emigration from Mexico. People who live in danger and lack economic opportunity seek a better life outside their home country. Another motive for crossing the border is to participate in the United States’ drug trade. Tackling such issues can help alleviate poverty in Mexico and can benefit the United States, too.

The connection between criminal and migrations

Organized crime has been on the rise in Mexico. Since 2006, over 109,000 citizens have been victims to homicides. As instances of murders increase, so does the rate of migration.

Mexico is the top supplier of illegal substances to the United States. Methamphetamine-induced seizures more than tripled between 2010 and 2015 along the U.S. southern border. Given this strong tie between the two countries, efforts to minimize drug transport have only resulted in other types of criminal activities. Smugglers found new opportunities with human trafficking that encourages kidnapping other immigrants at the border.

Central American leaders meeting

Much can be learned from the 2014 meeting held between the presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the United States. Actions that they proposed were similar to the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after the World War II. President of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, increased efforts to improve education and confiscate weapons used in the drug trade. He also bolstered the revenue for public services. President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras worked to limit business conducted by drug sellers as well as improve the country’s judicial system.

They said the United States focused too much attention on its own national security rather than sending much-needed funds to Central America. At this meeting, they stressed the importance of economic reform and collaboration among countries. Such insight can also help address the root causes of emigration from Mexico.

The United States would benefit from providing aid to Mexico’s economic situation and tackling organized crime within their Government. Vocational training in Mexico can ensure that workers entering the U.S. have valuable skills to contribute to job markets. Plus, it helps immigrants find employment and adjust to living in a new country. Certain areas of the Government of Mexico have been corrupted by acts of violence toward journalists and human rights defenders. It would be in the United States’ best interest to encourage transparency and due justice in Mexico, especially since they share a border.

The United States investments in Mexico

In response to such conflict, the Merida Initiative gave $2.8 billion to improve Mexico’s criminal justice system. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly met with representatives from Mexico to discuss plans for disrupting the businesses of criminal organizations. USAID gave $87 million so that judicial workers could be more qualified to handle court cases. Some of the states receiving those funds experienced a 25 percent reduction of pretrial detention. Since kidnappings are sadly a common occurrence, over $590 million was invested by the U.S. in aircraft that patrol the flow of emigration from Mexico. Part of that money also goes toward forensic equipment to lower Mexico’s impunity rate.

To discourage drug-related transactions between the countries, Mexico has imposed a limit on how many U.S. dollars can be transferred across the border. Additionally, more than 10,000 schools are teaching a lawful culture. They’re engaging youth in after-school activities to deter them from the drug industry and violence. Out of 9,000 surveyed youth who did these activities, 70 percent either remained in school or sought employment.

Some family members are sent to the U.S. for employment because of economic instability within Mexico. It provides different sources of income in case someone’s job can’t generate enough to support the family. For instance, if an entire family worked in the farming industry, there is no market stability. Increasing youth employment offers security and results in less migration.

Further research about how foreign aid benefits each sector can help the United States maximize their impact. That way, funding goes where needed most. But help from the U.S. isn’t about making people content to stay in Mexico. Reducing poverty can make sure immigrants enter the United States for reasons less dire than seeking asylum. Addressing the root causes of emigration from Mexico will return in the form of national security and economic opportunity.

– Sabrina Dubbert
Photo: Flickr

statelessness in indiaThe Indian government recently published its National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the State of Assam, cataloging the names and personal information of its citizens. The list has brought about controversy in light of the omission of an estimated four million residents of Assam, a state known for being a haven for Bangladeshi migrants and refugees.

These four million people could soon become stateless, which is an issue that The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) must look to solve if it plans to meet its goal of ending statelessness in India and throughout the world at large.

Legal Status is Being Threatened in India

March 24, 1971 was the cutoff date that the Indian government chose for proving legal status in Assam. Those that could not prove that they came to the state before this date—the day before Bangladesh declared its independence from Pakistan—would not be granted legal status in India.

The origin of the register is rooted in fear of the state’s Hindu-majority being altered by Muslim migrants. Now, the updated register almost solely excludes Bangladeshi refugees of the Bangladesh Liberation War, the majority of whom are Muslims.

The NRC has granted some family members citizenship while omitting others, bringing into question the accuracy of the list and the thoroughness of the identification process. The Government of India has stated that the Registry is not final; although, many had already been detained and separated from their families even prior to the publication of this updated Registry.

Those that lose citizenship will be stripped of the right to legally own land, work and vote in India. It has been reported that Bangladesh will not accept deportees; therefore, many of those that are at risk will wind up stateless and could be held in detention camps in India.

The UN Refugee Agency is Working to End Statelessness

If these four million people are not granted legal status in any capacity, this would mark a step backward for The U.N. Refugee Agency since it aims to end statelessness by 2024. An additional four million stateless in India would represent a 40 percent increase in the number of stateless people in the world, according to Agency estimates.

There are still many intangibles to be considered before the Agency decides on a course of action. However, the formation of a sound, national, legal framework for asylum has long been needed, particularly in states like Assam. “The lack of a national refugee protections framework is an obstacle to providing effective refugee protection,” according to the Agency. Asylum legislation could be a vehicle of enfranchisement for those that otherwise would become stateless.

Previously, India had always respected The UNHCR’s mandates. Now, the Agency is considering performing refugee status determinations (RSDs) for those left off of the list as well as also looking to advocate for the individuals at risk by reaching out to civil society.

In the past, The UNHCR has looked to generate discussion and awareness about refugee issues among the common populous, Indian academics, the media, human rights organizations and other nongovernmental organizations. Changing the perceptions of and rhetoric around asylum seekers in India could prove to be the most vital intervention that the Agency could take.

The U.N. Refugee Agency relies heavily on the contributions of member states to carry out its functions. Further contributions will be needed to prevent statelessness in India and help the people of Assam and throughout the world find a stable and safe home. While the task ahead is daunting, The UNHCR has already helped an estimated 50 million refugees in the 65 years they have been operating. With the necessary resources and with the cooperation of the Indian government, their goal for 2024 is achievable.

– Julius Long
Photo: Unsplash

Reasons Impoverished People Come to the United StatesMost Americans will never know what it is like to be forcibly displaced from their home country. Living in a place where there is no threat of violence is a luxury when compared to the hardships faced by many other people. For those who are not privileged, every day can seem like a struggle. The reasons for impoverished people coming to the United States are many. 

Asylum-Seeker and Refugee

What is the difference between an asylum-seeker and a refugee? Refugees are those who have to seek safety in neighboring counties during times of war or other perils and are recognized by the International Law. Asylum-seekers, however, are migrants whose identity as a refugee is not recognized by their home country. Their reason for fleeing may be related to personal threats of violence and they have not yet claimed refugee status. These two can fall under the term “migrant”.

In the current political climate, a pilgrimage to the United States is a great risk. Therefore, it is important for the natural born citizens of this nation to align themselves with the reasons impoverished people come to the United States

Top 10 Reasons Impoverished People Come to the United States

  1. Persecution: Impoverished people come to the United States to escape persecution, whether it is related to race, religion or political affiliation. Migration is the last option for safety and it is all many families can afford.
  2. Escape Violence: Many people coming to the southern border of the United States hail from the Northern Triangle of Central America, i.e. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The rate of targeted killings and gang-related violence has spiked in these countries in the past few years, causing many citizens to flee.
  3. Environmental Factors: Drastic changes in the natural environment is a prevalent reason for migration to the United States. After the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, around 179,000 people living in Puerto Rico came to the continental U.S.
  4. Healthcare: The impoverished migrants coming into the United States often come from countries with unaffordable or extremely limited access to healthcare.
  5. Jobs: Searching for employment is a top priority for migrants at the southern border. It is nothing short of astounding that nearly two-thirds of adults are able to find work within five weeks of entering, often accepting low wages to provide for themselves and their families.
  6. Children’s Bright Future: In the hopes of offering a better life for their children, many families have sent them out alone. Since the beginning of this year, over 74,000 children have been met at the U.S. southern border without being accompanied by a parent.
  7. Family Reunification: For parents who often have to send their children away ahead of them, coming to the United States is their chance to live as a family free of poverty and persecution.
  8. Protection: In their search for a place that offers an obligation to protect its citizens, migrants come with the hope that they will be protected in the United States. Displacement is something no person would want to go through more than once in their lifetime, so these people are looking for permanence as well. About 60 percent of the undocumented immigrants living in the United States has been there for the past decade.  
  9. Education: Public education is a luxury many impoverished people do not have access to. Coming to the United States provides not only an immediate better life for their families but a long-term plan for their children’s education.
  10. Quality of Life: Overall, this was the promise made to immigrants going back almost 200 years, that a better life was waiting for them if they were willing to work for it.

The above reasons for impoverished people to come to the United States will not only help American citizens empathize with their struggle but possibly look for ways to help them out. Embracing migrants is something that has been an enormous struggle for centuries in the United States, and while every immigrant’s reasons for leaving their home country may be different, their desire to build new, bright future is what brings them here.

– Tresa Rentler
Photo: Flickr

Immigrants Benefit ItalyImmigrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, have been stigmatized across Europe, often labeled as benefit thieves and criminals. And in most situations, this population is never given the opportunity to prove otherwise.

These negative stereotypes have heavily impacted the way locals perceive immigrants; this perception occurs so much so that locals have been unable to detach the person from the stereotype, making it difficult to change public opinion. The first step in breaking these negative perceptions is to highlight the ways in which immigrants enrich our lives, communities and economy. Immigrants have been negatively stereotyped for too long, and it is time for this to change — immigrants benefit Italy in numerous ways.

Projects to integrate immigrants have been set up across Italy, many of which involve immigrants being given various jobs in their new communities. This has not only proven to benefit the communities, but it has also helped tremendously with the integration of the new arrivals and changing overall local perception. Below are some examples of how immigrants benefit Italy.

How Do Immigrants Benefit Italy?

Firstly, the jobs that migrants accept are often those in the marginalized and lower-paid job sector — a sector that many Italians refuse to work in because of the lower wages and associated stigmas. Immigrants, though, are accused of “stealing jobs” from hardworking Italians.

But in reality, this is not the case. Migrants are merely filling the gaps, leading to Italian social advancement. If it were not for migrants, this job sector may have never been filled, thereby leaving gaps in society.

Secondly, immigrants play a crucial role in Italian development. Italy has an old population — one in ten Italians are over the age of 75. On the other hand, migrants and refugees coming to Italy tend to be young, only one in a hundred are over the age of 75.

Immigrants Boost the Economy

This means that rather than immigrants taking from Italian pensions, they work to enhance them through economic contributions. Immigrants are thought to take from society rather than give, yet more than 600,000 Italian pensions have been received thanks to immigrants.

Thirdly, because of the large population of pensioners in Italy and its large number of citizens emigrating elsewhere, holes are being left in the economy. This is where migrants come to the rescue and have filled such need to help improve the Italian economy.

This is true for many European countries with aging populations. For example, in recent years non-EU-citizens contributed around €16.5 billion ($19 billion) to the Italian economy, compared to the €12.6 billion ($14.5 billion) they received. These figures further clarify how migrants benefit Italy.

Creating an Environment for Immigrants to Thrive

Integration is key to the success of migrants in Italy. As of now, it is mostly small towns taking on the task of integrating and housing immigrants; these communities accomplish such a feat in the face of adversity and negative perceptions. As a result, they truly are paving the way for immigrant integration.

With the rate at which Italians emigrate elsewhere, small Italian towns in the south of Italy have heavily relied on immigrants to breathe life back into increasingly stagnant areas. In turn, immigrants have begun to rebuild the sense of community and home in places they were once unwelcome.

In times where immigrant lives are being threatened, it is imperative to create safe spaces and communities where immigrants can integrate without the threat of persecution. It is time for the rest of Italy to do just these measures, and reap the benefits brought about by immigration.

– Trelawny Robinson
Photo: Google

Refugee CrisisOn June 20, the world stood in solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers in observation of World Refugee Day, a time to consider the refugee crisis.

The occasion came at a pivotal time in the U.S, as public outcries about border practices separating families reached a high. This refugee crisis stems from the Trump administration’s use of separation as a deterrent for crossing the border in combination with the administration’s Zero Tolerance Policy, which requires immediate arrest for those crossing illegally. More than 2,300 kids have been separated from their families.

Nine facts about refugees

  1. More people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict than at any other time since World War II. The world is facing the biggest refugee crisis to date.  At the end of 2017, 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution on grounds of race, religion, political opinion and violence or conflict.
  1. Half of the refugees are under the age of 18. In some countries, including the U.S., migrant kids are even forced to represent themselves in a court of law.
  1. Under international law, refugees are not allowed to be forced back to their home countries. This law places an obligation for the state to not return a refugee to “the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
  1. Developing countries host 86 percent of the world’s refugees. The most popular host countries are Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia.
  1. More than half of the world’s refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Approximately one in five displaced persons come from Syria, where conflict has created an intense refugee crisis.
  1. Saudi Arabia does not register migrants as international refugees. This may not seem like a big deal, but the policy forces migrants to go through the Saudi visa process, during which the government can deny visas and deport individuals. If the individuals were registered as refugees, it would be illegal for the Saudi government to deport them under international law.
  1. Australia’s military blocks refugees before they reach its shores. The practice is coined as Operation Sovereign Borders. Military officials patrol waters to intercept migrants and send them to India or Indonesia. If migrant boats make it to Australia, its passengers are not allowed to stay on the mainland while their asylum cases are processed. Instead, they are sent to processing centers on the island of Naura. Human Rights Watch has begun to shut down such facilities.

  1. In one French town, it is illegal to feed refugees. The northern regions of France used to be home to a refugee settlement called the Jungle, which served as a temporary camp for thousands of migrants seeking asylum across the English Channel in the U.K. In 2016, however, authorities closed the site due to health and terrorism concerns. To ensure the camp remain dismantled, the city’s mayor enacted decrees banning organizations from giving food to any migrants.
  1. Germany has welcomed asylum-seekers in a way to revitalize run-down towns. The German law guarantees the right to asylum for all persons who flee political persecution.  Additionally, any unaccompanied migrant under the age of 18 is provided with a legal guardian to act on his or her behalf and to help navigate the asylum process.

With numbers of refugees rising, the world is faced with a great task of amending practices and treating all persons with respect. Many point to dealing with the root issue of migration rather than adjusting policy and procedure. This view is misinformed, however, as intervention in the home country is often very difficult, controversial and unsuccessful. Instead, we ought to come together as cohabitants of the planet to bring about positive change surrounding this global refugee crisis.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr