Friday, December 28, 2007

Moe: "We have to stop the illegal immigants from ... uh, Haiti"

Yet another piece of the migration puzzle that Lou Dobbs doesn't want to talk about, but it's an important one -- not the south to north migration he and other nativists rail against; but "south to south": moving from one extremely impoverished country to another that is poor as we in the West understand the term but still significantly much better off than the donor country.

Today's NYT has an article about the illegal immigration problem faced by -- the Dominican Republic, and the thousands of Haitians who have crossed the porous border mainly because average incomes are six times higher. This is a common occurrence throughout Central America, Africa, South Asia.

It's not just the recipient country having to take in all those workers who usually just want a better life and to send some money back home; while the "new home" country also has to adjust its social welfare policies. It's the potential security implications. I don't think Latin America is going to be a threat to the US anytime soon. And let's face it, since the modern term "political refugee" was created, more than 50 million have found new homes -- permanent homes. My father was one of them.

But there are 150 million or more economic refugees, split about 60-40 between developed and developing countries who take them in. That kind of mass out migration to countries that can't cope -- unlike the US and Canada -- is the real danger. Not necessarily illegals who come to the rich ones.

Many of us are familiar with the slide from Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary / slide show that shows the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic; the mass deforestation in the former, the relatively responsible policies in the latter. With increasing social pressures caused by this migration issue also comes environmental concerns which in many cases leads to ... terrorism. Or an attempt to install governments more corrupt and less democratic than the present ones.

Yesterday's murder of Benazir Bhutto puts that into even greater focus. Things are tough in Pakistan but they're even worse in Afghanistan economically. And just hours before she was shot, Bhutto vowed to do what Musharraf could or would not -- secure the border. Against terrorists openly; but also to deal with illegal immigrants as well who are taking advantage of the perceived greater opportunities.

As always, there has to be compassion for those who are economically distressed. Of course, we have to deal with what is, but we also have to deal with the source issue. It's not just one or the other.

The States could have a role in trying to lead a global answer in solving this issue and creating grass-roots development programs that actually work, rather than throwing good money after bad. But as long as it remains impotent to solving its own problems and caving in to those special interests who want to deport or isolate the unwanted within, it will have no moral authority to act to help the unwanted outside.

Vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.

No comments: