Why Is Immigration Such an Emotive Subject? Essay Example
The topic of immigration is an emotive subject among many world citizens. Although mostly felt in larger countries, immigration has been going since the beginning of civilization. It is a controversial topic mired in political propaganda, personal objections, economic and social factors, and questions of the future. Webster defines Immigration as, “a person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.”(Merriam-Webster, n.d) The reasons that individuals immigrate vary with diverse reasoning of political, personal, economic, criminal, or domestic reasons such as jobs and better opportunities. Other causes are retirement migration from expensive countries to lower-cost countries are a new style of international immigration. Migration, unlike immigration involves a whole demographic of people. Migration is a voluntary or involuntary physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Involuntary reasons are much more criminal in cases of sex or human trafficking, slave trade, and force removal (ex. Large Migration of African Americans in the US).
Immigration and migration are nothing new as history will tell us that since the beginning of time tribes, groups, and entire races have migrated to areas around the world. For western civilization, the most notable times were during the 18th to Great Britain, where groups of families and individuals would migrate to other countries during the Industrial Revolution to find jobs, and provide for their families. As Manning points out individuals usually migrated for in three major types, labour migration, refugee migrations, and urbanization. (Manning, pg. 132, 2005) Many can say that the first immigrants in America were those who “claimed” to discover it because the Native Americans were the original citizens. Pilgrims and those escaping from under the reign of King Henry migrated to America in search of a better way of life. Over the past quarter century, the number of international migrants has doubled to more than 200 million worldwide and it continually increasing. “If this number continues to grow at the same pace as during the last 20 years, it could reach 405 million by 2050.”(International Organization for Migration, 2010) Currently in the United States there are an estimated over 20 million illegal immigrants living in the country and experts debate on the basis if the number is increasing or decreasing.
Immigration is happening in all parts of the world, currently in Britain this has become a serious problem for their country. The attitudes of Britain’s citizens on immigration feel that it is a serious problem, and are more against immigration than most countries in the Europe. Britons blame immigration on the lack of employment due to immigrants taking jobs, and decreasing the wages due to them willing to work for less. A lot of anti-attitudes stem from the issues of overcrowding leading to fewer homes, apartments, and space in neighborhoods. There is a general split among the population about granting immigrants equal social benefits or citizenship, and enforce border control in order to solve the issues of illegal immigration.
One of the most notable migrations into Britain was Irish immigration since 1830, which came after the potato famine, and soon continued into the 20th century which citizens leaving rural parts of Ireland to live in Britain. Other mass migrations into Britain include Kenyans, Asians, Indians, and other groups that came to Britain seeking refugee or relief from economic and social disparities. The problems of immigration within Britain started centuries ago but became problematic during the late 80’s and 90’s. One of the major problems during this era was the race of immigrants migrating to Britain. An influx of Jamaicans and other Blacks brought out highly volatile racial tensions, that the government felt needed to be addressed quickly. Many acts of racism and discrimination pushed the government to passed legislation and laws against discrimination in housing, jobs, and other social areas, in particular immigration. Parliament soon passed The British Nationality Act of 1981, put an end to its long established law that granted automatic citizenship to individuals born in Britain. Soon the immigration policy changed from then onwards as the conflicts and wars within Europe, questioned and changed their policy on asylum seeking individuals. “The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the breakup of the Soviet Union — together with conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s — led to increased humanitarian flows to the United Kingdom and other European countries.”(Sommerville, Sriskandarajah, Latorre, 2009) Parliament then moved to enact more legislation including The 1993 Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act, restrictive legislation that reduced asylum seekers entitled benefits, created faster procedural process of asylum applications that allow for detention while asylum seekers waited for their applications to be approved. In 1996, Parliament passed the Immigration and Asylum Act which continued upon the 1993 Act that was developed to reduce the number of asylum seekers by restricting the number of claims and welfare benefits.
After the tragedies on September 11, 2001 in the United States, policy on immigration shifted towards tighter controls on people seeking asylum, visas, and illegal immigration, which they combatted with the newly created UK Borders Agency (UKBA, which “encompasses visa responsibilities from the Foreign Office and detection responsibilities from Customs, and has greater operational freedom,” replacing the old agency, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). (Sommerville, Sriskandarajah, Latorre, 2009) Although Britain has set up legislation and agencies to curb the amount of immigrants into the country, it has not stopped the immigrant population from surging. The recent census in 2011 showed that within the last decade, the population of immigrants has grown to over 3 million. The new data that come out
“that white British people are now a minority in the capital city, London…less than 90 percent of the country is white.” (Murray, 2012) This increase in population has led to the decrease in the country’s central religion and change the cultural make-up of most British communities. This new status has been met with backlash and optimism. Tony Blair’s former advisor Andrew Neather, suggested in 2009, “that the huge increases in the number of migrants were a politically-motivated attempt to radically change the country and ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity.” (Murray, 2012) While others applaud this increase adding that immigration brings economic and social benefits, and those that are highly educated brings fresh and innovative ideas to the country. Barbara Roche, the immigration minister, said: “The UK is a nation of immigrants. Immigration is a very good thing and has benefited the country.”(Carvel, 2001)
The problem with immigration is not only in Britain but also in Saudi Arabia. Although many people would not suspect that foreigners would want to migrate to such as strict Muslim country the job opportunities in their tech and oil industry is enticing. A majority of the immigrants going to Saudi Arabia are coming from countries in Asia, and the northern of parts Africa to escape the ruling of their countries, poverty, or to find jobs in the oil industry to make money and better support of the family. Turkish migrated to Saudi Arabia in the 1970’s in relation to the economic ties between the two countries. Turkish migrated in large numbers, in 1977 there were over 6500 in Saudi Arabia, and soon Turkish migrants begin to establish hair salons, restaurants, and furniture stores in the thousands throughout Saudi Arabia. Turkish are not the only ones that have immigrated to Saudi Arabia, Filipinos have too, started in 1973, a group of engineers came to Saudi Arabia and have continued to gain jobs in Saudi Arabia as they have filled almost 6,000 medical positions with Filipinos, and also have 24 international schools within Saudi Arabia.
The boom in foreign workers in Saudi Arabia came in the 1930’s within the oil industry, but it was not into the massive oil boom in 1973 that an influx of workers migrated to the country. As the oil industry grew more money started to trickle down in to the country to help aid in the development of new infrastructures, which called for a demand in labor that was not available in the country, so the demand for skilled workers abroad increased. Many of the immigrants consisted of Asians from the southern part of the country that served as wanted worker due to their easy nature to control. “Despite the decrease in the pace of construction projects in the 1980s, South Asians and Southeast Asians have continued to constitute the largest portion of the expatriate population in the kingdom, indicating demand for foreign workers has shifted to other sectors of the economy.”(Pakkiasamy, 2004) Currently there are over 1 million immigrants from different countries including Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Bangladesh, India, and Africa. In addition, there are over 7 million workers, with almost 1 million workers directly from the Philippines. Over 100,000 western expatriates from the UK and US, in sum make up over half the expatriate population of Saudi Arabia. “Expatriates from Europe and North America dominate high-skilled positions; low-skilled workers originate primarily from South and Southeast Asia.” (Pakkiasamy, 2004)
The problem with Saudi Arabia’s immigration is rooted in their immigration policy and their entrance procedures. In order for workers from other countries to enter Saudi Arabia they must receive a company sponsored service visa, which the company is responsible for renewing and such, every four years. Yet, many workers that migrate to Saudi Arabia cannot obtain a visa, so they come through illegal channels, where business will hire them because they are willing to work for lower wages than other skilled workers. The population of illegal immigrants has grown to over 2 million and have captured much of the work force. Foreign workers have become the face of Saudi Arabia’s workforce that many nationals complain about the shift from their cultural identity. “Expatriate labor across all occupations and skills levels constituted around two-thirds of the total workforce and 95 percent of labor in the private sector.” (Pakkiasamy, 2004) From those outcries, legislation in Saudi Arabia has increased to put a stop to not only illegal immigration but foreign workers coming to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has delegated a six-year cap on the residency of foreign workers in the country, as measures to control the workforce. While, the governmental department over the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj that overstay their time will be deported, jailed, or fined without an option to appeal. (PTI, 2011) The government also took it a step further and hired over 1000 inspectors in order to check if businesses hired illegal workers which they will issue fines. These policies are in place to crack down on illegal hiring methods, and immigrants getting ahold to the black market visas. “Saudi Arabian authorities have already deported hundreds of thousands of illegal workers, Reuters said. The crackdown is aimed at reducing unemployment among legal residents; that figure now stands at 12 percent.”(Chumley, 2013)
Immigration has significant impacts all around the world, and in a matter of perspectives it has either harmed the host countries are benefited them. Immigration is meant for the immigrants as a way to escape an unpleasant situation and seek a better life. When immigrants do this their main focus is obtaining a job to help provide for their family, in do, so they get an education, acquire skills and in some instances contribute significantly in fields of technology, science, and medicine. Immigrants help with the aging populations in some countries, and they help to bring fresh, and innovative ideas that will change the infrastructure. The skills and the ideas of the immigrants not only benefit them but the education system, the workforce, and the economy. If immigrants choose to return to their original country they can tremendously benefit them as well as they will drive their economy, be able to share in the knowledge and skills acquired by adding to the job market, making them competitive with other countries. Immigrants that returned successful are able to invest in business and aid in economic and social development within their countries. Immigration and migration are one of the key factors in helping to reduce poverty in the world. However, there are several disadvantages that have helped in the sentiment that local citizens feel against immigration. When immigrants migrate to other countries either legally or illegally they tend to cut the wage earnings and skill level on jobs, aiding to the growing number in unemployment. The risk of overcrowding is especially problematic in countries where the population is already large, neighborhoods and communities will feel threatened as community “identity” will be taken over by internationals. Illegal immigrants usually need social benefits that include social security, welfare, and other programs and resources that are intended for the countries lower income individuals. Other resources including housing, food programs, and foundations are overrun with need aided by immigrants that come with little to nothing.
Immigration topic is clearly split down the middle, as most that are in favor, even more are not. The issues are vast and usually consisted of various reasons, some factual and others myths. In my opinion, there is a strong need for immigration reform internationally. Immigration has been going on for a long time and is not slowing down thanks to the political regime in some countries, the economic and social welfare in others. I agree with immigrants migrating to other countries in search of a better way of life. Immigrants add a lot to a country, and each benefit in the process. However, there are rules in place for a reason, and although they need to be reformed they are the law, and should be followed. In the cases of Britain and Saudi Arabia, their problems stem for the need to keep their “identity” intact from foreigners flocking to their countries. Both take different approaches, where one is stricter than the other. I agree with the way that Saudi Arabia is handling their immigration problem in terms of business hiring illegals and cutting the wages. It only drives the job market down and hurts the entire population, not just the locals. Hopefully soon political parties will come together intelligently and logically to solve the problem.
Carvel, John. “Immigration rise main social trend of 1990s.” (2001). The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2001/jan/25/race.world
Chumley, Cheryl. “Saudi Arabia cracks down on illegal immigrants.” (2013). The Washington Times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/17/saudi-arabia-cracks-down-illegal-immigrants/
Immigrant. (N.d). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immigrant
Murray, Douglas. “Yes, immigration can bring huge benefits. But on this scale and at this speed, it’s too much to cope with.” (2011). Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2246663/2011-census-Immigration-bring-huge-benefits-scale-cope-with.html#ixzz2QzZPCmbj
Pakkiasamy. Divya.” Saudi Arabia’s Plan for Changing Its Workforce.” (2004). Migration Information Source. Retrieved from http://www.migrationinformation.org/USfocus/display.cfm?ID=264
Patrick Manning. Migration in World History (2005) p 132-162.
“Saudi Arabia plans six-year cap on expatriate workers.” (2011). The Hindu. Retrieved from http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2062108.ece
Sommerville, Will, Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah, Maria Latorre. “United Kingdom: A Reluctant Country of Immigration.” (2009). Migration Information Source. Retrieved from http://www.migrationinformation.org/feature/display.cfm?ID=736
“World Migration Report 2010 – The Future of Migration: Building Capacities for Change.” International Organization for Migration, 2010.
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