The debate around immigration has intensified the past few years on the Western Hemisphere.
South African Refugees photo courtesy of CFR
In fact, it has become a prominent conversation that has seen the rise of far-right politicians who owe their success to anti-immigration populism.
Migration is not a new phenomenon.
For as long as the world has existed, beings have been moving around. The current conversations around migration are not much about the fact that people move but more about the fact that poor and vulnerable citizens of developing countries are migrating to so-called rich nations in search of safety, security, and prosperity.
From Syrian refugees that are escaping a bloody civil war and are stranded at the gates of Europe, to African migrants that die by thousands in the Mediterranean in their attempt to reach the “colonizer’s land” to the Latin American migrants that are arrested and separated from their children at the border of the United States and Mexico, sad and disheartening are the stories of migration that have dominated mainstream and social media the past months.
Illustration – courtesy of UC Davis Poverty Center
Amid such devastating news that make one regret belonging to this antipathic generation, very little is said about the millions of people who migrate within their continent and region. In Africa for instance, 92% of migrants go to another African nation. The remaining 8% are divided among other continents with less than 3% making it or attempt to make it to Europe.
The “conflict-torn and property wretched continent “ whose people despite all the past decades of imperialist attacks and pillage have demonstrated an unparalleled form of resilience and are still progressing economically at a faster rate than any other continent in the world has been welcoming far more immigrants from Asia and Europe than it is sending out.
It is understandable that western nations reject taking their share of the blame when it comes to exploiting other nations, causing and feeding conflicts that leave millions of people displaced and puts their lives in jeopardy. Nonetheless, the hypocrisy of the West lays in the argument of the fascists and the racists who claim vehemently that they are being invaded by other races and soon enough, they will lose their identity.
Poverty Map of Africa photo – courtesy of Behance
First of all, culture and identity are dynamic. The French culture today was not the same a century ago and the American one wasn’t the same half a century ago. No one can stop identities from changing and drastic immigration policies motivated by the fear of the unknown and hatred toward the most vulnerable and the poor will not save the West from losing its contemporary identity which in a few decades or centuries might look gregarious to the future occupants of this planet.
The West does not have anything against migrants but it has everything against poor people.
The American President Trump made it clear that their country wouldn’t mind receiving Norwegian migrants and when a former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy talked about “immigration choisie”, their selective immigration process is a way of ensuring that the most educated and the wealthiest migrate to their countries.
The West has always felt insecure and constantly leaves in paranoia. This paranoia has caused humanity two world wars that left millions of people dead. The insecurity of the West pushes it to constantly see a threat in whatever people or nations they are unable to profit from beyond exploiting them physically, economically and politically.
There is this attitude that is intrinsic to western nations which makes them constantly see others as foes they do not just need to compete with but must dominate and control. As a result, they are always seeking to grow their economic, military and political power.
And the poor, undereducated and unskilled migrants are not the kind of people they foresee can help them achieve that. Rather, they see them as a liability and the very selfish and parasitic West that has stolen from every single continent cannot afford to share the massive wealth it has acquired at the expense of billions of people’s dignity whose very existence is threatened by poverty, climate change, terrorism, civil wars all of whom are the direct consequences of the West’s insatiable imperialist conquests and selfish neoliberal politics.
African migrants- courtesy of the Citizen
The media which is the most effective brainwashing tool used by populists to indoctrinate their ignoramus citizens have played a role in depicting migration as a new phenomenon that will eventually lead to the destruction and the fall of the West. A destruction that failed to occur when the same western nations were butchering millions of Africans, Asians, Native Indians for many centuries.
The one thing that the West can never claim as its invention is migration and nothing can the Europeans and their American cousins do to stop it. The exhibition of inhumanity Western governments are getting better and better at will only further alienate them from the rest of the world. A world that they need more than anyone else.
When you are born on a land as dry as Europe, you can’t afford arrogance because everything you own, and use was produced from the resources of other continents. And the sooner the West sucks in its belligerent pride, the better for them because it has more to lose from that hatred than the world has to gain.
Author: Farida Bemba Nabourema is a Togolese human rights and political activist.