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Immigration seems to be making more headlines in recent years. As the world globalizes in terms of nations’ economies, trade and investment, borders are opened up more easily for
freer flow of goods and products. People are supposedly freer to move around the world, too.
people still are not able to move as freely as commodities5. In some places around the world, there are additional restrictions being put up on people’s movements.
New York-based Human Rights Watch reports on how the US Immigration and Naturalization Service treat immigration detainees as though they were criminals by putting these otherwise innocent people in jail, indefinitely 6.
US immigration policies, (especially noticeable during the economic boom at the end of the 1990s) are interesting in that they are really designed to bring in immigrants with a certain level and type of education to help enhance the nation, economically. While at first thought this seems reasonable, there are a few ramifications:
- A disproportionate representation of that ethnic population becomes part of the American culture;
- As a result it affects the stereotypical image of such minorities seemingly in a positive way as always being hard-working but also as only interested in the pursuit of financial gains, for example.
- However, a strange twist occurs:
- Some politicians use such stereotyped groups to show how other immigrant populations in the US who have been around longer should follow newer immigrant’s examples
- Some even using that as a basis to argue for a further cut in social welfare subsidies for example, unfairly blaming such people solely for their economic problems.
- So, as an unfortunate example, South Asian Americans are inadvertently looked upon negatively by many in the Black and Latino communities, and vice versa.
For more details on this aspect, see for example, Vijay Prashad’s books, The Karma of Brown Folk (University of Minesota Press, 2000) and Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting, (Beacon Press, 2001).
In 1998, various human rights groups such as Amnesty International UK, expressed concerns7 at plans to improve the immigration process8.
Fears and concerns cited included the following:
- This plan would allow immigration officers more power than before to detain and increase the number of asylum seekers whose appeals have been refused.
- Having more checks by liaison officers at the ports and airports of the countries that the asylum seekers are leaving would prevent genuine asylum seekers being able to flee their country where human rights violations may be taking place.
Even though the number of people seeking asylum in UK is not as large as some other countries in Europe, Amnesty International, for example, raises the concern that UK’s current process means that the prison-like asylum centers house people who may be waiting up to seven years before their case can be heard.
The European Union has had policies to control immigration from non-member countries. Spain for example seems to be facing a larger number of immigrants from Morocco and other North African countries where people want to escape their politically conflict-torn countries and seek a better standard of living in Europe. However, many people are dying16 trying to achieve this.
Some human rights activists say that the European restrictions need to be modified or African nations need to overcome their under-development in order to alleviate some of these problems. However, the current form of globalization18 doesn’t look like it will immediately help the developing nations.
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