I said in my previous post that I had been spending some time traveling, I had a short but fantastic trip to Laos which is an excellent country to visit on a tight budget and is incredibly beautiful.
Part of my trip involved a two day long boat trip down the Mekong river. Sitting behind me was a group of back packers from Australia, Italy and Holland. At one point there discussion turned to the ‘problem’ of immigration. I was trying really hard not to listen because I find it almost impossible to disengage from political conversations even if I am not participating and other people’s ignorance can make me really pissed off.
It was the usual fare of ZOMG the immigrants are flooding in there have to be controls! They must assimilate into society and be good immigrants and then it is OK. I understand that there are many practical considerations with immigration but for the love of pete can we step back and look at the big picture?
The key reason that people immigrate from the global south to the global north (I use these terms loosely) is the search for a better life. Not because they think western society is way more awesome than their own and they want a piece of it, but because the vast majority of the worlds money sits in the west. In my experience the vast majority of immigrants do not choose to go through the myriad and very real difficulties of immigration including becoming a marginalised group just for the hell of it.
If you are really worried about the ‘immigration issue’ then how about lets talk about fixing global inequality – much of which has been caused by the pillage of colonialism and subsequent imposed economic systems (this when you think about it is the white supremacists ultimate fear of what immigration will turn into). Lets do that instead of whinging and moaning about how immigrants (like yours truly) don’t like to integrate, that we clump together in our ghettoes hoarding money and political power to try and change the social fabric and cultural values of ‘your’ society.
What makes these arguments about immigration even more ludicrous is that it is exactly what happens when white people immigrate to the global south. We don’t call them immigrants though, we call them expats and its ok for them to clump together in private housing estates, never learn to speak the local language, and send their kids to special schools that spout only their own values. I see this a lot now that I live in Asia and it makes me laugh hysterically considering the content of the immigration debates where I come from.
It of course comes down to where power lies and what people in power consider valuable. This is obviously their own language, culture and values – wherever they may live in the world. At least we can try to be honest about it.