Friday, May 04, 2007

Man the Borders - the Huns are Coming!

In April, I saw a news report where Bush (jr.) was visiting some border patrols facing southern borders and congratulating them on amassing arsenal, building fences and beefing up security. He made a speech about how more needed to be done to prevent others from "sneaking in." I have a serious issue with the tone and manner in which the immigration debate (more like propaganda) has been conducted. This nation stands for freedom and self-determination. Immigrants flock to it to be free of their domestic persecutions and for new opportunities to hew a better life. One could argue that many of these south of the border immigrants have more legitimate rights to be here, given the historically contiguous nature of this region as well as perhaps closer blood-ties to the original inhabitants of the Americas.

Early arriving Europeans wrested this nation from its original inhabitants. Many European Americans feel sad about their history and feel that were mass European migration to the Americas to happen today, perhaps everyone would be treated differently. And yet, this nation's leader seeks to demonize immigrants who might, had the US not been colonized, be moving across this landscape quite legitimately. Where's the hope for redress of historic ills when present day politics continue to make some people the blessed and the others the invaders?

Cross-border immigration is even tied to the war on terror in order to motivate the security forces further. Such rhetoric and propaganda has resulted in spawning vigilante justice along the border where man attacks man in the name of land and law.

Human migrations have existed since humans existed. To me it seems a very basic right that the movement of living beings not be curtailed. There are natural self-correcting mechanisms affected by environmental, ecological and individual conditions to name but a few. In fact, it is these forces that are driving current day migrations just as they did in the past. But today, we have stopped up borders on one side of which lies starvation and on the other side waste.

Here's a fact that is not as well known as it should be. You know that fight against poverty that everyone is talking about? Money being sent by migrant workers to their families exceeds all foreign aid put together. $110bn annually! And remember that most of these guys often work the lowest paid jobs. And in case you are thinking that the transfer of money comes at the expense of the rich nations, think again. I have one quote from a World Bank report on migration and development here: " migration could double world income..." (See links.) It takes a different tone from the political vitriol being spewed at migrants in most of the developed, benevolent, western nations.

It seems to me that we like to pat ourselves on the back too much for being civilized and enlightened in the 21st century. As long as national borders exist and people treat each other unequally based on differences, we cannot claim to have moved into a compassionate era of mutual and beneficial co-existence.

No comments: