Inhumane Immigration Policies Undermine Humanity

Critics overlook the economic potential that refugees and migrants carry with them. Far from being a drain on resources, they act as catalysts for economic growth. The increased labor force, establishment of businesses, payment of taxes, and consumption of goods and services all contribute to stimulating economic activity.

  • 5 months ago
  • January 22, 2024
7 min read
Representative image courtesy of Metin Ozer on Unsplash. Representative image courtesy of Metin Ozer on Unsplash.
This Op-Ed is one in a series which is aimed at shedding light on critical global issues that demand urgent attention and address a spectrum of challenges affecting us all, emphasizing the need for collective action and support from international humanitarian organizations. By fostering awareness and encouraging collaboration, we hope to inspire positive change and contribute to a more compassionate and equitable world as we cover the multitude of issues that impact our global community.

The global displacement crisis, driven by conflicts, persecution, and instability, has led to a surge in refugees and asylum seekers. As of September 2023, an estimated 114 million individuals experienced forced displacement due to persecution, conflict, violence, and violations of human rights. As of mid2023, shamefully, the global refugee count reached an all-time high, totaling 36.4 million individuals.

Read first-person immigration and refugee stories from Orato World Media.

Seeking Political Power and Popularity

Forced migration is a complex issue often exacerbated by a lack of accurate information and the
challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers. Many of those individuals are forced to flee their homes due to religious persecution, torture, genocide and conflict. They encounter prejudice and
discrimination based on factors such as ethnicity, religion, or nationality, fostering harmful stereotypes and hostility. This unfair treatment has made it difficult for displaced people to find respite and fit into
new communities. This allows negative opinions to stand as obstacles to assimilation.

Regrettably, the movement of refugees is perceived and handled as a security challenge, an external
threat, a risk, and a matter of zero-sum politics rather than a humanitarian issue. Countries all over the
world are declining to host refugees for political reasons or due to perceived threats to their economic
resources and material power.

The refugee crisis played a role in the British decision to exit the EU during the 2016 Brexit Referendum.
An article from Business Insider, titled ‘The refugee crisis is killing Britain’s chances of staying within the
EU,’ published in 2015 before the referendum, discussed this connection where 22 percent of those inclined to remain in the EU might reconsider their stance if the migrant and refugee crisis intensified.

The Rwanda scheme, launched in April 2022 by then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, involves the
transfer of illegal arrivals to Rwanda. Upon becoming Prime Minister, Sunak prioritized “stopping the
boats” as one of his top five concerns.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni garnered increased support by embracing an anti-immigration position and positioning herself as a champion of national sovereignty in opposition to the EU’s migration policies.

Refugee women and children from Syrian stand at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. | Photo courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons.

In several European nations, including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, France, and
Hungary, far-right parties have gained prominence promoting more stringent immigration policies and
advocating for heightened border controls.

In the US, during the Trump Administration, there were significant changes aimed at making the country more restrictive. These changes included separating migrant children from their parents at the border,
cutting work visas for foreign software engineers, and putting up large steel barriers along the border.
The changes were dizzying in their scope and frequency but followed a singular logic: to make the
United States a more closed, restrictive nation, as seen by their “Remain in Mexico” policy under the
Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

As a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, Trump has pledged to crack down on illegal immigration and restrict legal immigration if elected to a second term. He has outlined plans for a renewed travel ban, targeting regions including the Gaza Strip, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen,
and any other place deemed a security threat. In particular, Trump focused on Gaza, expressing
intentions to bar entry for immigrants supporting the Islamist militant group Hamas.

To gain popularity and win votes, unscrupulous politicians have capitalized on the naivety of uneducated citizens by mischaracterizing the positive contributions refugees and asylum seekers can make. The
influence of biased political agendas plays a significant role in molding public opinion and plays a part in
fostering unfavorable views of people who have been displaced.

Addressing the apprehension surrounding the social, economic, and political changes resulting from the
arrival of refugees and asylum seekers is vital for fostering understanding and cooperation between host
communities and displaced individuals. Concerns about public services, job competition, and security
issues must be met with effective communication and education.

Addressing the doom loop; shrinking populations and aging demographics

Such narrow viewpoints towards refugees and asylum seekers fail to acknowledge the manifold ways in
which these individuals can positively contribute to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of both host and home countries.

One of the most compelling arguments for embracing refugees lies in the diversity, skills, innovation,
entrepreneurship, and cultural enrichment they bring. These attributes are not mere ornaments but
valuable assets that can profoundly enrich the tapestry of any nation and have, in fact, over time,
historically proven to do so. By fostering an environment that welcomes diverse perspectives, societies
benefit from a broader range of ideas and experiences, driving progress and creativity.

The global North faces a demographic challenge with their fertility rates. Fertility in these countries
currently stands at 1.7 and fell below replacement—that is, the level at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next—around 1980. Consequently, without immigration to
offset these declines, the difference in births and deaths produced population declines and substantial
increases in average ages in the North, both of which disrupted labor markets, threatened the fiscal
sustainability of pension systems, and slowed down economic growth. To address this, forward-looking
immigration policies are essential, focusing on long-term impacts rather than short-term political gains.

An aspiring migrant from Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana and San Diego. The white crosses represent those who died attempting to get into the U.S. | Photo courtesy of Tomas Castelazo via Wikimedia Commons and www.tomascastelazo.com. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Critics overlook the economic potential that refugees and migrants carry with them. Far from being a
drain on resources, they act as catalysts for economic growth. The increased labor force, establishment
of businesses, payment of taxes, and consumption of goods and services all contribute to stimulating economic activity. This infusion of energy is especially vital for addressing demographic challenges such as aging populations, low fertility rates, and labor shortages that many destination countries grapple with.

Beyond the host nations, refugees and migrants play a crucial role in enhancing the development of
their countries of origin. Through remittances, investments in businesses, knowledge and skill transfers,
and the fostering of trade and cooperation, they become active agents of positive change. For
communities facing poverty, conflict, and instability, these contributions become lifelines for sustainable development.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers Deserve More

Addressing the worldwide challenges posed by forced displacement requires a united and empathetic approach from nations across the globe. Criminalizing irregular entry worsens the plight of vulnerable populations, while restrictions on services, employment, and integration opportunities prolong their hardships.

The use of diplomatic, political, and economic tools is essential to address the root causes of violence,
instability, and human rights violations that force people to flee their homes.

The individuals in yellow t-shirts are from the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms. They can be seen helping refugees in crisis near Greece. | Photo courtesy of Ggia via Wikimedia Commons.

International cooperation is vital for turning migration into a positive force for development.
Collaboration on both bilateral and multilateral levels can align migrant skills with societies’ needs. It’s
crucial to include underrepresented voices, such as those of developing countries, the private sector,
and migrants themselves, in the migration debate. Countries should encourage migration where skills are in demand, facilitate integration, and address social concerns. Rather than hindering movement,
nations should enable refugees to find employment and access services where available.

Refugees are not burdens to be solved but untapped potential waiting to be harnessed. By providing them with the opportunity and support to thrive, societies stand to gain immeasurable benefits. It is high time that we shift our perspective by welcoming these individuals not only with open arms but also
with open minds, recognizing their profound contributions to our shared humanity.

Embracing diversity, fostering economic growth, and promoting collaboration are not just morally right; they are the pathways to a brighter, more interconnected future for us all and recognition that we are all individual members of humanity.

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