What is Migration? Part I

By | October 21, 2021

Migration has been a part of our history for millennia. People have sought peace or new and better hunting and grazing lands – voluntarily or compulsorily. Some are driven out on the move, others are attracted to something. Migration has come in waves and not in a steady stream. The media regularly overflows with dramatic reports about migrants trying to reach the promised lands and about clashes with clear signs of migration in big cities. The postings have brought migration issues to the forefront of the political agenda – also internationally. In September 2006, the UN convened the member states for a first summit on migration.

  • Why do people migrate and who are they?
  • What forms of migration do we find?
  • How can migration promote development?
  • What challenges are associated with migration?

2: What is a migrant?

According to ablogtophone, an immigrant or emigrant – a migrant – is usually considered to be a person who settles in another country for less than one year . Some countries operate with a shorter time. One country’s immigrant is another country’s emigrant (emigrant).

Usually the term migration is related to those who cross state borders and move from one country to another. Thus, internal relocations such as the huge, ongoing migration in China – with 130-150 million migrants – are excluded. People who move internally in a country make up the vast majority of those who move.

Globally, there were 191 million (international) migrants in 2005 (UN figures), up from 82 million in 1970. The increase in recent decades has thus been formidable.

In its simplest form, a migrant is one who moves for good from one country to another. The picture becomes more complex with migrants moving from host country to host country and for longer periods back to their country of origin. In the period 1960–2004, the Netherlands had a total immigration of 2.5 million migrants, but one million of these traveled on to other countries or back to the country of origin. At the same time, own residents also travel – either for longer periods or for good. The migrants are called illegal when they stay without a permit in a country, for example without a visa, work or study permit, or status as a refugee or asylum seeker (cf. box). Global estimates of illegal immigrants are between 30 and 40 million people. The United States alone (2005) estimates that the country has 11-12 million illegal immigrants.

Illegal migrants are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. As illegals, they fall between most chairs, and can be an easy prey for people who only have their own gain in mind. Slave-like wages and working conditions, sex trafficking and human trafficking are key words for some of the degrading this type of migrant can experience. They take greater risks, face more problems and are exposed to more abuses and violations of human rights. And women are particularly vulnerable. Today, human trafficking brings in between $ 7 billion and $ 12 billion (UN estimates) annually, beaten only by drug and arms smuggling.

3: Background for migration today

People all over the world are bombarded with images of “the good life” in rich countries. Then it is hardly surprising that many are influenced to leave. Today’s migration wave is part of globalization. Better and cheaper transport and communications – both physical and electronic – have made it easier and more tempting for people to move. And in line with the concept of globalization, we see that today’s migrations are in some ways more global than before – migrants move over greater distances than ever before. With it, the number of people from other and distant cultures also increases significantly in many countries. Previously ethnically and religiously more homogeneous (homogeneous) societies thus become more non-homogeneous (heterogeneous).

CAUSES : The reasons for break-ups and migration are many and often complex, and they vary from individual to individual. Some are forced to leave ( “shock factors” ), as a result of unrest, widespread human rights abuses and violations, severe environmental degradation, economic downturn with unemployment and poor wage conditions or otherwise. Others move more voluntarily and are attracted to something ( “pull factors”), preferably out of a wish or a dream of a better life for themselves and theirs. In practice, in most individual migrant stories we will find elements of both coercion and voluntariness. Only a small part – less than 10% (the figures vary from source to source) – of the migrants are refugees and thus forced to migrate. Of the refugee migrants, 9 out of 10 are in the south, while a much larger proportion of labor migrants stay in the north.

At the same time, it is a fact that multiple countries in the north have in recent decades introduced restrictions (regulations) on migrant flows. Uncontrolled / unbalanced immigration has been shown to present challenges and problems related to, among other things, integration, the housing and labor market, racism, human trafficking and other crime.

4: Migration – a complex phenomenon

Several countries today are both countries of origin and recipient and stand thus with one foot in both camps. Some move in, others move out. It has therefore become more difficult than before to say that a country is a clear country of emigration or immigration. Many countries have also changed their “status”. It is not many years since many emigrated from Ireland, Italy and Spain. Today, the three countries receive thousands of migrants annually and far more than it moves out. With “perforated” state borders, many countries today therefore face surprisingly uniform challenges related to migration.

Migration is also complex because migrants often move on – to a new host country or return to the country of origin, either for good or for longer periods.

For the individual migrant , migration has become something quite different than it once was. Not many decades ago, migration meant long-term separation from the homeland and rarely news from there. In this way, relocation became more absolute and irrevocable than now. Today, the bridges back to the homeland are many. Significantly cheaper and better communications have greatly improved the ability to maintain close contact with family and friends in the country of origin (“home country”). And the channels are many: frequent trips “home”, internet, satellite TV, telephone or in other ways. How do these changes affect migrants ‘and recipient communities’ willingness and opportunities for integration? How do the new opportunities affect migrants’ identities and loyalties?

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