Victims of Globalization?

Donna R. Gabaccia, Director, Immigration History Research Center

If last week’s news is any indication, residents of the richest countries on earth believe they are victims of globalization. And they see their best defense as further restrictions on migration.

As in the U.S., arguments for tighter controls over migration around the world mix fears of terrorism with anxiety about rising welfare costs. Residents of rich countries also fear the morality of foreigners, whom they perceive as lacking respect for their restrictive laws. Fears focus on the poorest migrants but no traveler is completely exempt.

In Japan, for example, where 8.1 million foreigners regularly enter the country, mainly as tourists, fears of terrorism have risen along with Japan’s continued support for U.S. military action in the Middle East. The solution? Borrowing from the U.S., Japan will require all adults to be photographed and fingerprinted.

Syria meanwhile has announced it will close its border to persons fleeing from nearby Iraq. More dramatically it will require 1.5 millions Iraqis residing in Syria to return home again.
Syria’s decision may please Iraq’s government but it’s unclear whether the Iraqis fleeing their war-torn country will show proper respect for the new law.

Certainly that’s something that worries France. There, a new law requires far more of potential immigrants than merely demonstrating knowledge of the French language or knowledge of French political customs. France proposes DNA testing for visa applicants. Why? The French fear that families sponsoring their relatives lie about their biological connections. In Switzerland, this mingling of biological with security concerns recently found even more direct expression. A right-wing political poster featured an image of three white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag in order to “produce security.?

Even European proposals that acknowledge the region’s growing need for labor reveal high anxiety about migration increases. The “blue card? recently suggested for the EU would be available only to the highly skilled. And it would impose such high income restrictions that few engineers or computer technicians could meet them.

Is it any surprise, then, that in Ireland, even a sympathetic public official in city struggling to cope with the educational needs of growing numbers of immigrant children concluded “We're just victims of our times, really"?

In a world where the rich consider themselves the victims, the poor will find their own alternatives. Perhaps, as one recent report suggests, they will increasingly chase their dreams not to Europe, Japan or the U.S. but to China:

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Ott published on October 29, 2007 4:46 PM.

Legal Rights of Illegal Immigrants was the previous entry in this blog.

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