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How many migrants can the world manage?

by Olivia Salembier October 9, 2018
How many migrants can the world manage?

Considering the concrete facts about migration, the United States’s actions don’t line up

In most of our lives, the topic of migration is usually accompanied by the word “crisis.” There is no denying that a growing number of environmental, political and economic factors are pressuring more people to displace themselves. However, I believe the world is entirely capable of supporting an increase in human movement. The reason why the current migration situation is labeled as a crisis is because of countless nations’s inability to manage their borders and have proper systems in place to effectively and safely regulate human movement.

Currently, the planet hosts about 7.4 billion people, of which only 245 million people are considered migrants, making up only 3.3 per cent of the world’s total population, according to the Pew Research Center. The current United States’s population is about 325 million, including more than 43 million immigrants, who account for 13.5 per cent of the country’s total population, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

The policies and institutional frameworks that allow immigrants to re-establish their lives elsewhere are easily controlled by a state’s regime and judicial system. A state that does not accommodate migrants directly affects the dire situation these people face, especially in terms of human rights. The current border crisis between the United States and Mexico is a pressing case that demonstrates systematic institutional failures.

I believe there is a pressing problem with a regime that consistently produces discourse about the threat immigrants pose to national security, job security and the national budget. It normalizes sentiments of hate and discrimination. It also allows for such norms to be condoned through actions, leading to a lack of recognition of inherent human rights.

Take, for example, the case of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unconstitutionally separating children from their parents. This was done without a proper framework in place to document adult migrants who were being detained. It led to an inability to reunite separated families. Additionally, there was no system to establish where these unaccompanied minors would be kept, and in most cases, the initial intent was to send the minors to foster care. Between April and May alone, almost 2,000 children were separated from their families, according to Vox, likely leading to intense emotional trauma for those separated.

The American justice system is also at the forefront of neglecting human rights, especially with regard to immigration. Immigration courts allow children, sometimes as young as three, to appear unaccompanied at their immigration proceedings. Let that sink in. Given the age of these children, it is certain they don’t have a basic comprehension of immigration law.

Given that the United States’s current immigration laws and systems are not only harmful but also clearly not supporting international human rights, the question that must be considered is: Why has this been allowed to evolve? A common response would be that the American people resent immigrants. However, many recent polls disprove this. Even in the midst of such harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric stemming from the current administration, multiple statistics show it has not affected Americans’ support of immigrants.

A recent Gallup poll found that fears of immigrants bringing crime, taking jobs from native-born citizens and damaging a country’s budget and overall economy are at an all-time low. Over 75 per cent of the respondents in 2018 believed immigration was a good thing for a country. The same poll also found that an overwhelming number of respondents believe immigrants are absolutely beneficial to the American economy. If this is the case and American citizens truly support immigrants, then why is the government not acting in the interests of its constituents?

Graphic by Ana Bilokin

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