The story of humanity is essentially the story of human movement. In the near future, people will move even more, particularly if, as some predict, climate change sparks mass migration on an unprecedented scale. The sooner we recognize the inevitability of this movement, the sooner we can try to manage it.
Whenever people talk in the abstract about the pros and cons of immigration, one should not forget that immigrants are individual human beings whose lives happen not to fit neatly within national borders – and that like all human beings, they are all different.
All of us are migrants to this world for a few days!
MIGRATION: PAST AND PRESENT
emigrant, emigrate, immigration, immigrant – Migrate – immigrate, migrant, migration, emigration.
Moving to another place is referred to as migration. – A person, animal, or bird that moves from one place to another is a migrant. – If people leave their own country and go to live in another, they emigrate. These people are emigrants and their action is emigration. – People immigrate if they come to live in a country from another. The people coming into a country from abroad to make their life and home there are immigrants and their action is immigration.
displaced people are people forced to go and live in another country; refugees are people who have been forced to leave their country for political or religious reasons, or because they have no food; expellees are people who have been forced to leave their country; escapees are people that succeed in getting out of a place where they are kept by force or risk persecution.
People on the move. Here you will find a series of historical events concerning migration.
Prehistoric age. As many areas in northern Africa slowly dried up, hunters of the Stone Age followed the animals to go and live in the fertile Nile Valley.
200s B.C. – 400s A.D. A group of tribes pushed out of Mongolia and drove some people westward towards the Ural Mountains and others southeast into China. The Chinese called these people “Hsiung-Nu” and Europeans later gave them the name “Huns”. They pushed into eastern Europe and moved into what is now Hungary; their migration ended after their chief, Attila, died. Other tribes (the Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Vandals, etc.) swept into Europe in what historians call “The barbarian invasion”.
600s-700s. The nomads of Arabia, in one of the greatest migrations in history, occupied Arabia, Armenia, Egypt, Persia (now Iran) and Syria; they swept along the entire length of North Africa, carrying the Berbers and other people with them. They moved north into Spain and Gaul.
1200s. Genghis Khan, a Mongol chief, conquered Afghanistan, Persia, most of eastern Europe, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Syria and northern China.
1453. The Turks slowly made their way across Asia Minor to the Balkan countries. They captured Constantinople (now Istanbul), ending the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman, Empire.
About 1500 (for almost 400 years). The Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italians and English ventured across the oceans in search of new land and gradually settled the coast of the Americas. Adventurous explorers sailed to find new trade routes and establish colonies.
Between 1700 and 1840. About one million people migrated to America; most of them came from Europe.
1840-1900. Thousands of Europeans migrated to Australia, Africa, Canada, New Zealand and South America.
Early 1920s-2nd World War. Many nations began to set strict limits to the number of people who could immigrate; almost all governments placed restrictions on the number or types of people who could enter or leave their countries.
1930s. German Jews and other people, fleeing political and religious persecution, escaped and sought refuge in other countries.
After 1945 . After World War Il in Europe and Asia about 50 million people migrated from one country to another to seek political and economic security; about 20 million of them were displaced people, refugees, expellees and escapees.
1950s. More than 770,000 Jews migrated to independent Israel, chiefly from eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. The war between Israel and the Arab state forced more than 700,000 Arabs living in Palestine to leave their homes. About 750,000 Chinese fled to Taiwan and about the same number to Hong Kong after the defeat of the Chinese nationalists. More than 800,000 refugees poured into South Vietnam from North Vietnam after the war. Over 700,000 persons migrated from North to South Korea as a result of the Korean war.
Contemporary times. Western European countries, especially, saw a high growth in immigration after World War II., both of European and non-European origin. In contemporary globalization, migrations to Europe have accelerated in speed and scale. Beginning in 2004, the European Union has granted EU citizens a freedom of movement and residence within the EU, and the term “immigrant” has since mostly been used to refer to extracomunitarian (i.e. non-EU) citizens.
Perhaps the most important statistic which stands out comes from the United Nations itself, which reports that Europe as we have known it since 1945 will no longer exist by 2020. Truth be told, it no longer exists now (See Brexit). Approximately 104,460 asylum seekers arrived in Germany during the month of August, setting a new record. That makes 413,535 registered refugees and migrants coming to Germany in 2015 so far. The country expects a total of around 800,000 people to seek asylum in Germany this year. And that’s just Germany. The entire continent of Europe is being inundated with refugees at a rate unprecedented in world history and 75% of the migrants are “young, fit males.” In Italy at the moment the number of foreign people is about 8,000,000 and if we look at France, which was historically Europe’s most populous nation, between 2006 and 2008, about 40% of newborns had one foreign-born grandparent (11% born in another European country, 16% born in the Maghreb and 12% born in another region of the world).
Some thinking and reasoning activites!
Over the last decades, there has been an increase in negative attitudes towards immigration, and many studies have emphasized marked differences in the strength of anti-immigrant attitudes among European countries. Emigration, especially of people from less developed countries to more developed ones, has increased in recent years and has become a very controversial topic.
Different and various causes of the migration phenomenon.
North Vs South – low/high population density; – more/less access to education; – low/high fertility rate;
– longer/shorter life; – fewer/more working-age people; – many/very few industries; – more/nearly no research;
– high/low GDP; – safe/no safe water; – peace/war; welfare state/no welfare state.
Push factors: environmental degradation deepening poverty; worse living conditions expanding urbanization; high growth of population political repression; ethnic and religious conflicts wars/civil wars; No sanitary assistance and hospitals;
Pull factors: more employment opportunities thanks to a real demand for workers (for demographic and economic factors); better living conditions; higher salaries; possibility of qualified working experience; prestige of rich countries; health care system;
Here are three points of view:
1 – Many people are strongly opposed to immigration; 2 – others defend immigration; 3 – others say the situation is much more complicated: immigration might be right in some cases and wrong in others.
Which of these points of view do you share? Explain your reasons.
Read the following opinions and decide which point of view each of them expresses: 1, 2, or 3.
a. Immigrants take jobs away from the citizens of that country.
b. Since many immigrants come into a country illegally, they are forced to accept jobs which other people do not want and they are badly paid.
c. Stereotypes are sometimes wrongly created when associating immigrants with crime and drugs; the majority of immigrants are honest people who just want to have a decent life.
d. People who are suffering serious or violent persecution because of their political or religious beliefs should be allowed to emigrate.
e. It is unfair that immigrants, who are often poor when they arrive, should benefit from social services financed from taxes paid by the citizens of the host country.
f. Some immigrants come from economic situations which are not terrible – only because they want to become richer.
g. Immigrants actually add to the culture of a city.
h. More immigrants mean more crime; they are responsible for bringing drugs into the country.
i. It is important to look at whether immigrants are legal or illegal: if they have legal jobs, it also means that they will pay taxes; then it is more unlikely that they will turn to drugs or crime.
j. Many immigrants are highly educated or very talented people who could contribute a lot to the host country.
k. Immigration corrupts the traditions and culture of a country; many immigrants do not take the trouble to learn the language of the host country.