Chaotic migration has become a phenomenon sweeping developed economies. The European Union and the US in particular suffer from messy migrant flows, with repercussions that are economic, social and cultural for their societies.
It is widely known that migrations from one region to another is as old as history. What we are seeing now is quite different. There are entire populations getting ready to migrate to richer countries in the West — and perhaps to the East in future — because of the deteriorating conditions in their home countries.
On the other hand, there is an organised and beneficial migration to the advanced economies, owing to them being a magnet for talented people who can still contribute to innovation, economic and social growth.
Interestingly, the developed countries have given them nationalities and further developed their competencies, especially as migrants’ children and future generations are usually characterised by the same educational and professional levels of the country they are moving to.
On age and numbers
It is a fact that migrants have contributed effectively to progress made by some countries, such as the oil-producing nations of this region, and their development cannot be imagined without foreign workers. The EU and the US certainly suffer from an ageing populace and are in desperate need of foreign workers to maintain their living standards. Nonetheless, what is happening is quite different.
Some migrants do have a few qualifications but many are illiterate and uneducated, placing a huge burden on the countries when it comes to supporting millions of immigrants who can’t sustain themselves.
This creates an economic burden and social and cultural challenges that cannot be easily dealt with. It is clear that migrations will continue for years to come. Immigrants have nothing to lose but their lives, which they do not care about as they face the very real chance of drowning in the seas. But given the miserable social conditions in their countries, it proves the saying, “A man can die but once”.
How can the EU and the US deal with these challenges, which have created differences among EU members and serious divisions within American society. That is apart from the unsustainable economic costs in future.
So far, human migrations have contributed to strengthening the radical right in Europe, which has achieved great electoral gains. European governments are still debating how to deal with the issue, especially as they are under pressure from politicised human rights groups that have lost much credibility because of their double standards.
Therefore, countries like Germany, Spain and France have changed the way they deal with migrations. And migrants are being aggressively treated in Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
As for the US, which is preparing to receive millions of immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico, the Trump administration’s violent behaviour is different from that of previous administrations.
The effect of elections
There is a project to build the wall with Mexico, migrants are being forcefully deported, and subsidies cut. Such measures will face major difficulties after the midterm elections in the US, in which the Democrats won a majority in the House of Representatives.
Are there other solutions before this crisis escalates and spreads to other rich countries? Perhaps one is to provide assistance and loans to countries that are the sources of these emigrants for development projects and higher living standards.
With these strategies adopted, richer countries will avoid social and cultural repercussions. In addition, migration must be organised based on the economic needs of rich countries.
Dr Mohammad Al Asoomi is a UAE economic expert and specialist in economic and social development in the UAE and the GCC countries.