Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Dealing with Global Migration: Applying Two Sociological Theories

Academic journal article Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table

Dealing with Global Migration: Applying Two Sociological Theories

Article excerpt


Migrations from Less Developed Countries (LDCs) to More Developed Countries (MDCs) have been increasing rapidly since 1990, concerning many people in MDCs for a number of reasons including higher welfare costs since, for example in the U. S., over 30 percent of migrants are grade-school dropouts, and rising violence (Camarota, 2001; Horowitz, 2001; Bawer, 2006). The major issues can be grouped into five key questions:

1) What is the scope of global migration, for documented as well as undocumented migrants?

2) How will global warming affect future migrations?

3) What benefits and detriments are generated due to such migrations?

4) What social theories can be used in understanding, and perhaps in responding effectively to such migrations, in order to avert large-scale detriments and even global disaster?

5) What in these theories can provide policy directions for community and national leaders in dealing more adequately with global migrations?

This paper will address each of these questions.

1) What is the scope of global migration?

To characterize global migration involves at least seven major issues. First, in 2000, an estimated 175 million people lived outside their country of birth, 2.7 percent of the world's population, and more than ever before (Addi, et al., 2003; Doyle, 2004). Of the 175 million about 158 million were deemed international migrants; 16 million were recognized refugees fleeing usually well-founded fears of persecution; and 900,000 were outright asylum seekers (Doyle, 2004).

In the U.S., as in most MDCs, the percentages of in-migrants are substantially higher than the worldwide percentages would imply. In 2000, the U.S. had 55 million immigrants, roughly 18% of its population (and increasing annually); 27 million were adults and 28 million children, many born in the U.S. (Hanson, 2005). Further, of the 1.2 million migrants arriving every year in the U.S. alone, and the trend is increasing (Camarota, 2001, an estimated 500,000 are undocumented, up from 300,000 a decade earlier (Hanson, 2005). A small fraction of undocumented migrants are found and sent back, but every year more arrive for longer stays so that in 2004 an estimated 10.3 million people were undocumented in the U.S., 5.9 million from Mexico alone (Hanson, 2005: 1). Currently (2007), estimated undocumented migrants have risen to 12 million (Pear, 2007). Other MDCs are having similar experiences (Bawer, 2006; Bilefsky, 2007; Caldwell, 2007; Fisher, 2007; Landler and Kulish, 2007).

Second, migration from a "typical" LDC especially lures healthy, robust, 20-something, single or married, unemployed, poverty-level, male small-villagers, with elementary education (but more than their neighbors), who know other migrants, and have seen MDC wealth and seeming well-being via the mass media (Zahniser, 2000: 268 f.; Hanson, 2005: 27 ff.). A major motivation is to remit savings to their home countries; for Mexico in 2000, these remittances amounted to levels more than tourism or direct foreign investment (Hanson, 2005; Zahniser, 2000). Wage differentials between sending and receiving countries, then, contribute to migration decisions (Hanson, 2005). For such reasons small percentages of people in LDCs migrate to relatively well-ordered MDCs with their reasonably well-functioning economic and social-services systems.

Third, although MDC-to-LDC migrants tend to come from small villages, many settle in the biggest MDC cities (Foner, Rumbait, and Gold, 2000b). Of Los Angeles' 9.5 million people 63 percent (40% children) were of immigrant stock (an immigrant or offspring), 54 percent of New York City's 8 million, and 72 percent of Greater Miami's 4 million residents, all increasing annually (Foner, Rumbaut, and Gold, 2000b). Rotterdam is said to have a Muslim majority (Bawer, 2007). Measurable emigration among MDCs (to other MDCs) is virtually stagnant compared to emigration from LDCs to MDCs (Hanson, 2005). …

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