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

Student Life

Have we learned anything at all?

Concordia’s German program worked with The Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention Foundation to host a workshop on moral responsibility in today’s politics

The Holocaust served as historical background in a presentation on moral responsibility in modern-day politics organized by Concordia’s German program on Oct. 27.

Matthias Pum, an Austrian who travels abroad to conduct Holocaust memorial services, spoke to a group of about 30 people on Thursday about the context and causes of the Holocaust, and how many Austrian and German citizens were convinced the actions of the National Socialist government were right and justified.

He used examples to show how Nazi propaganda was “emotionally-based” and presented “opinion or fiction as a matter of fact.”

Photo by Alex Hutchins

He referenced the words of Hermann Goering, one of the highest-ranking Nazi officials, to illustrate how populations can be influenced into believing anything. “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country,” Pum said.

Pum pointed out how the unwillingness from the majority of countries in the world to accept Jewish refugees during the Nazi regime is comparable to the current treatment of Syrian refugees.

He referenced the Evian Conference of 1938, where representatives from 32 countries gathered to discuss helping Jewish refugees. In the end, only the Dominican Republic increased their refugee intake.  The economic depression of the 30s made countries hesitant to take in refugees.  According to the United States Memorial Museum’s website, “all this red tape existed against the backdrop of other hardships: competition with thousands of equally desperate people, slow mail that made communication with would-be sponsors difficult, financial hardships, and oppressive measures in Germany that made even the simplest task a chore.”

While Syrian refugees are accepted in greater numbers than the Jewish refugees were, Pum believes that wealthier countries need to do more to accommodate and assist the refugees fleeing the current civil war in the Middle East.

Pum blamed “right-wing populism” and parties such as the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ),​ Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland​ Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party for modern anti-refugee sentiment in Europe.

Photo by Alex Hutchins

While none of the parties he mentioned are currently in power in their respective countries, the FPÖ is presently polling seven points higher than the next most popular party, and the Alternative für Deutschland Party is gaining support and slowly becoming Germany’s third most popular political party.

Pum discussed an ad by the Alternative für Deutschland, which urged citizens to have the “courage to stand by Germany.” He likened this to Goering’s aforementioned words, saying the ad implied the same denunciation and vilification of “pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”

Pum’s overall message was about the importance of learning from history in order avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. He believes modern “right-wing populism” is all too similar to the mentality that overtook Germany and Austria before and during World War II, a mentality that led to the Holocaust. He said he believes anyone is capable of making difference in the world by learning about the historical context of past events and applying that knowledge to modern day circumstances.

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