Immigration Debate – Its a Global Issue Too

Introduction – Immigration in the US
StrategyUnit has abstained from the US immigration debate since there’s a high level of complexity in what is legal, moral and practical. But, it suffices to say that this author is an immigrant in this great land, so I do support a more robust system of allowing immigrates to become productive and integrated Americans.

John Podhoretz has done an excellent job in trying to provide some clarity on the immigration debate by understanding that what is the “immigration debates” is actually three different, but overlapping debates:

There are really three immigration debates. There is the cultural debate, there is the economic debate, and there is the security debate. (Emphasis StrategyUnit’s) On matters of culture, I believe as everybody else here does that our immigration policy makes no sense if it is not directed at the process of turning non-Americans into Americans through the instruction of English, knowledge of civics and American history, and helping to instill a sense of pride and commitment to the country.

On economic matters, I agree that if immigrants are not of net benefit to the country, it makes no sense for us to allow newcomers to do harm in this way — and here, in my opinion, the case made by restrictionists is by far the weakest. On security matters, an uncontrolled border is clearly unacceptable, and a panoply of measures, including a border fence, is more than called for.

As for dealing with the illegals already here, there’s a sense in which this debate has been radicalized to such an extent that the Right won’t be satisfied with a policy that does not explicitly advocate expulsion — all other policies being dubbed “amnesty” and therefore illegitimate — while the Left refuses to consider any policy other than special-treatment affirmative-action line-jumping legalization. In other words, there is nothing our politicians can do, absolutely nothing, to satisfy the activists — because neither extreme will be reflected in any kind of law or policy that emerges even from a Washington energized to deal with them. (link)

All discussions on immigration must be careful to not freely mesh-up these differing strands (intertwined as they may be at times) – cultural, economic and security spheres.

Immigration – An International Issue
While the US debates and (hopefully) finds its own path towards intelligently reforming the process of immigration – from Europe to Africa. Note also how these select news items below (by no means representative or exhaustive) can under the issues of security, culture and economic.

Botswana (Via AfricanFiles):
” Zimbabweans are fleeing their politically and economically troubled nation in large numbers. The relatively prosperous Botswanans resent this influx as a threat to their livelihoods, especially the possibility of the spread of foot and mouth disease to their cattle, their second largest earner after diamonds. The electrified fence Botswana is building along the border is viewed by one group as a barrier against animals; it is considered an insult to humans by the other.”

Spain – (Jamestown Foundation, 04 May 2006):
“Spanish security officials continue to worry that members of al-Qaeda will take advantage of the clandestine immigration pipeline route by inserting terrorists to make their way to either the enclaves or to the Spanish mainland. To this regard, the Directorate General of National police recently advertised 357 posts for anti-terrorist officers to monitor potential Islamists in areas where the presence of Muslim immigrants is well known, such as Melilla, Ceuta, Granada, Malaga and Alicante.”

Belgium (Via Brussels Report, 11 May 2006):
“The crisis between the Catholic Church and the government is escalating in Belgium. So far over 30 Belgian churches have been occupied by illegal immigrants or so-called “sans papiers” (“people without papers” [=staying permits]). The latest church taken over by squatters is the Saint Susanna Church in the Brussels borough of Schaarbeek, where a group of thirty women with small children have installed themselves. They were invited in by the local parish priest.”

Immigration is an issue that is not going away. Any historian will tell you that the migration of people has been a fact of human history well before the development of states and of nations. It is simply that globalization has accelerated the course of human migration as compared to decades pasts.

Understanding how to deal with immigration – from the cultural, economic, and security perspectives – will be an important factor in the success of many states, be it those in Europe, United States to Botswana to Japan.

A state built as an anti-immigration fortress will fail in its isolation, but an open door policy may bring more change than a state and its society can be able and willing to handle. As with all things, it is through the middle we will find the answer. I hope that the leaders – in political circles and activist groups – in the US will understand this.



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