Posts Tagged ‘migration’

anti-immigrant xenophobia in the United States

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

This weekend’s Financial Times contains a very dark essay from FT columnist Simon Schama. He argues, correctly, that nativism is nothing new in the United States. What worries him is that it now dominates the office of the President.

[T]he moral stench of anti-immigrant xenophobia is nothing new in American history. What is new is that it now lodges in the White House. This is a radical departure from presidential norms, Republican as well as Democratic. …. Ronald Reagan declared his aim to secure control of American borders but not before he had given an amnesty to 3m illegal immigrants. George W Bush tried time and again to persuade his party towards a humane immigration policy and, six days after 9/11, made a point of going to the Islamic Center in Washington to denounce precisely the conflation of Islam and terrorism that now animates the incumbent.

The world is separating into two irreconcilable halves: those who want to live only alongside those who look, pray and speak like them, and those millions in the great ethnically jumbled cities who want to share the neighbourhood.

Simon Schama, “America’s immigrant dream collides with nativist nightmares“, Financial Times, 4 February 2017 (gated paywall).

reflections of a Vietnam war refugee

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

This weekend’s Financial Times contains a number of ‘must read’ essays. Here is one of them, a reflection by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen on American identity and the treatment of refugees in the United States. (more…)

refugees in the USA

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

President Donald Trump last week blocked all admission of Syrian refugees and temporarily suspended the entire US refugee programme. This are incredible measures, especially given that the US has few refugees compared to other countries. Below are two charts from an FT column that illustrate this point. I remind you that refugees are defined as those who flee their home country because of persecution or violence, and must prove they face “serious harm” should they return home. Migrants are those who voluntarily choose to leave their home country, often for economic reasons.

Source: Lauren Leatherby, “Trump clampdown: four charts on the US refugee programme“, 28 January 2017 (metered paywall).

There are two more charts, and a wealth of information, at the link above.




Trump’s coming restriction of visas for skilled workers

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

This week, the US tech companies were disturbed to learn that Donald Trump had won the presidential election. The fear is that Trump will carry out a promise to restrict H1-B visas, making it difficult for them to recruit skilled guest workers.

Hannah Kuchler, FT San Francisco correspondent, provides the full story. One paragraph, which is very optimistic (at least for actuaries and for Canada!), caught my attention.

If Mr Trump does restrict immigration in the industry, tech companies will find other ways to benefit from foreign expertise. Mr [Rob] Atkinson [president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think-tank] said some might expand in countries that make it easier to hire immigrants such as Canada, where Justin Trudeau’s administration is creating an innovation policy that will encourage companies to hire high-skilled software engineers, wherever they are from. Mr [Brian] Kropp [human resources leader at CEB] suggested companies could launch more extensive training programmes, for example, taking a group of actuaries and training them to be data scientists.

Hannah Kuchler, “Silicon Valley frets over foreign worker crackdown“, Financial Times, 13 November 2016 (metered paywall).

I also found the following charts interesting. Note the large percentage of Indian nationals among recipients of H1-B visas.

foreigners and US politics

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

FT columnist Simon Kuper explains what many of us already knew: “the American election probably matters more to foreigners than it does to most Americans”.

The US inhabits a gated mansion in the safest neighbourhood in geopolitics. Even if the Red Army had rolled across western Europe, life in Alabama or Ohio would have been almost undisturbed. It’s telling that when Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, he had to invent a foreign bogeyman, the Mexican rapist. The US is immune to the world in a way that British Brexiters can only fantasise about. This means that the American election probably matters more to foreigners than it does to most Americans. The US president has the power to protect the rest of the world, mess us up or simply ignore us.

Simon Kuper, “America’s elections — or the world’s?“, Financial Times, 27 October 2016 (metered paywall).

Mr Kuper’s point is especially applicable to Canada. Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919–2000) famously said, during a 1969 visit to Washington, DC: “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Syrian refugees in Victoria, BC

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Canada last year made a commitment to bring 25,000 of Syria’s 4.5 million refugees to the country as immigrants. The 25,000 target was met in early 2016, and 30,862 Syrian refugees are now in Canada. This is a small number compared to the total number of refugees, but large compared to the 10,000 number of the USA, which attained this low target only in August of 2016. The US population is ten times larger than that of Canada, yet Canada has brought in three times as many refugees.

The small city of Victoria, BC (metropolitan population 345,000) has warmly welcomed 154 Syrian refugees (40 families). Some of the refugees are supported by Canada’s federal government, others by private sponsors such as churches, temples and mosques. There is no discrimination by religion. Jewish temples, for example, proudly sponsor Muslim refugees.

There has been little press coverage in Canada of this influx of Syrian refugees, a reflection of the fact that resettlement is taking place peacefully, without incidents. The initial flood of refugee support has unfortunately slowed, however, precisely because refugees rarely feature in the news. For this reason, I was pleased to see publication in a Victoria newspaper of a plea for more sponsors of refugees.

[Jean McRae, CEO of the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria] explained language is a significant issue for the newcomers.

“Without a working knowledge of English, it’s hard for them to find employment, and the children, who have already had significant disruptions in their education, find it difficult to catch up in a new language,” said McRae, adding the stellar work of the school system and volunteers in providing help with English education has helped to address the situation.

“We also run workshops on the Canadian workplace, teaching the refugees how to look for work, prepare a resume, reply to online job offerings and even how to handle interviews. It’s a completely different culture, and we know that getting them here was just the beginning of the work that needs to be done.” ….

The commitment of the government and private sponsors has been to provide housing and support for one year, noted McRae, adding that, for some, it may not be reasonable to expect full self sufficiency at the end of that time.

“Of course, we’ll stay in touch with them beyond the first year and help where we can. But I can tell you these people are quite amazing and I have no doubt they’ll soon find their way to becoming self sufficient and contributing residents to Victoria.”

Tim Collins, “Sponsors still needed for many more Syrian refugees“, Victoria News, 7 October 2016.

Canada’s unique refugee programme

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

Canada’s private sponsorship programme is the oldest and best known in the world. Its implementation coincided with another conflict four decades ago.

The new policy came into force in 1978 under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government, just as people were growing increasingly alarmed at the plight of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians fleeing communist regimes by sea in leaking, unsafe boats.

The programme, overseen by the federal government, allows groups of private citizens – often with ties to faith-based organisations, cultural groups or humanitarian organisations – to directly sponsor refugees. ….

From January 1979 to December 1980, Canada resettled 60,049 so-called “boat people.” More than 50%, were privately sponsored, often by complete strangers. ….

Since last November, Canada has welcomed over 30,000 Syrian refugees. Almost 11,300 were brought in through private sponsorship.

Jessica Murphy, “The unique programme that brings refugees to Canada“, BBC News, 20 September 2016.

There is much more – including video – at the link. It is worth noting that the USA, with ten times the population of Canada, has accepted fewer than 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Martin Wolf on Brexit

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

The always sensible Martin Wolf writes, in his FT column today, that exit from the EU means exit from the customs union and single market along with exit from EU regulation and intra-bloc migration. The only feasible alternative is to ignore the Brexit referendum results. This is not likely.

“Brexit means Brexit.” As circular as it is concise, this three-word sentence tells us much about the style of Theresa May, the UK prime minister. I take this to mean that the UK will, in her view, formally leave the EU, without the option of a second referendum or a parliamentary override. If so, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the outcome will be “hard Brexit”.

By “hard Brexit” I mean a departure not only from the EU but also from the customs union and the single market. ….

Why then is a hard Brexit the most likely outcome? My belief rests on the view that this UK government will not seek to reverse the result of the vote and that it will feel obliged to impose controls on immigration from the EU and to free itself from the bloc’s regulations overseen by its judicial processes. ….

The only reasonable alternative to hard Brexit would be to stay inside the EU. Parliament is constitutionally entitled to ignore the vote result. The people could also be asked if they wanted to change their minds. But the Conservatives would surely follow Labour into ruin if they tried to reverse the outcome. Their Brexiters would go berserk. ….

The UK has chosen a largely illusory autonomy over EU membership. That has consequences. It will have to accept this grim reality and move as quickly as it can to whatever the future holds.

Martin Wolf, “Theresa May limbers up for a hard Brexit“, Financial Times, 21 September 2016 (metered paywall).

UK-EU relations after Brexit

Monday, August 29th, 2016

FT columnist Wolfgang Münchau explains what we all know (or should know). The EU will never grant the UK full access to its single market unless it is coupled with free movement of labour.

An EU without free movement labour is like the Catholic Church without the Holy Ghost. ….

I would not want to sacrifice the benefits of the single market for the illusory benefit of sending home a few thousand immigrants from eastern or south-eastern Europe. But if the British government decides to prioritise immigration control, it will have to settle for a free-trade agreement.

This would still allow UK businesses to export manufactured goods into the EU without paying tariffs. But the City of London would lose the cherished single passport, which allows UK-based firms to conduct business everywhere in the EU with no questions asked.

Wolfgang Münchau, “Remainers fighting the wrong battle will harden Brexit“, Financial Times, 29 August 2016 (metered paywall).

New York, Miami and the Mariel exodus

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Iván Acosta (born 1943) left Cuba in 1961 and settled in New York, where he now works as a playwright, filmmaker and publicist.

Below are excerpts from statements Acosta made when interviewed on the subject of Amigos (1985), the first full-length film he completed as director and screenwriter. The film conveys the experience of Ramón, a fictional refugee who arrives in Miami by sea with the Mariel exodus.

I happened to be in Miami when the Mariel exodus started. Early May 1980. ….

Speaking with my friend Marcelino Miyares, who was the C.E.O. of WBBS Channel 60 in Chicago, I told him it would be great to film a documentary about the Mariel experience; Marcelino asked me, why not a movie instead? …. We created a company, … and [began] filming in July. It took us 8 weeks to film Amigos. We filmed 80% of the film in Miami; the rest was shot in South Carolina, Washington DC, Union City, New Jersey, and New York City. ….

The Cuban community in Miami had a very negative attitude towards the new refugees. So, to me, it was very important to tell the human story of the Marielitos. …. I wrote the script as a bittersweet comedy drama. …. Of course, the Cuban ultra conservatives or extreme right of Miami … didn’t like some of the things said and denounced in Amigos. ….

We all know Cuban machismo; I have seen it and experienced it all my life. You see, the revolution was the greatest promoter of machismo. All those bearded, sweaty, cigar smokers and trigger- happy militiamen impregnated the macho image—an image the maximum leader always projected and demanded among revolutionary militants. Hundreds of homosexuals were sent to prisons and to hard-labor concentrations camps, las UMAP, just for not being macho enough for revolutionary standards. Cubans, pro and anti Castro, somehow tried to imitate the Máximo Líder. I have always disliked the extreme machismo, not only among Cubans, but among all men …. We do know machismo exists, and in many societies it is celebrated and even rewarded. That was what happened in Cuba after 1959. The men wanted to be more manly than ever before, and that influence came with the exiles. I tried to ridicule the absurd machista behavior throughout different scenes in the movie. ….

To me, machistas, racists, and homophobics go hand in hand. Unfortunately, that mentality exists among some Cubans, in exile and in the archipelago. ….

I love Miami. I have never lived in Miami, although I visit it at least once a year. ….
You see, I’ve lived all my 50 plus years in exile in New York City. They always say Cubans in New York think different than Cubans in Miami, even than Cubans across the Hudson River in New Jersey. It is true, Cuban New Yorkers think and have a different perspective of the Cuban situation in general. We always hear about “Cuban Success,” which is real for some, but we never hear about a majority of hard-working Cuban exiles: in factories, restaurants, mechanical shops, construction, farms, etc. Those represent the real Cuban exiles, the working men and women who, in several cases, risked their lives to escape from Cuba to live and work in freedom. But some people consider successful those who accumulated several millions of dollars and have a luxurious yacht, a big mansion with 5 or 6 expensive automobiles. In Amigos, I tried to show that balance without criticism, the gap between the Cubans who have a lot and the unsung heroes who built the Cuban Miami and don’t have as much.

AMIGOS and Miami Post-Mariel“, Carolina Caballero talks to director IVAN ACOSTA, Cuba Counterpoints, 1 August 2016.

Carolina Caballero was born in the United States to Cuban parents. She lectures in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, at Tulane University in New Orleans. The questions she asks Mr Acosta, more of his answers, and stills from the film Amigos, can be downloaded at the link above.