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Who Benefits From Migration?

By PanAfrican Visions
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People move back and forth across the globe. There are labour migrants, refugees, family reunification, students, volunteers, adventurers, tourists and people who are simply searching for a better quality of life. It is all a part of globalisation and it contains progress and development. It is a way to encounter new possibilities in life. The future is no longer only the culture of origin; instead a person has the ability to live in a different culture. People who do not get the chance to move are the ones without a choice. The migrant has a choice. If a person is unhappy with the situation she/he is living in, this is an opportunity of a life time. Globalisation in its glory as it contains new opportunities and new possibilities for those who are included. Does this mean that migration always is beneficial for the migrant?

It spins my mind every time I try to figure out the distinction between voluntary and forced migrants. I understand that voluntary migrants have migrated due to achieving a better life. Is not a forced migrant searching for a better life as well? As I see it the migrant has a choice but the alternatives the migrant is facing are diverse. The definition of a better life can differ depending on the migrant. A Swedish migrant might go to Ghana for working as a volunteer as the migrant feels that the journey will improve this person's life and contribute to improve other peoples' lives. Sweden is a safe place to live in and thereby the migrant was not forced to leave. However, a sense of guilt towards inequalities might make the migrant feel forced to leave. This migrant is still referred to as a voluntary migrant. A forced migrant, on the other hand, is someone who has to move due to war or starvation in the country of origin. It is in this case a matter of survival or death. Is not the forced migrant also searching for a better quality of life? If this is the case are not the forced migrants and the voluntary migrants both benefiting from migrating? It is then only the migrants who have achieved refugee status who are truly forced as they are facing death if returning. Migrating is then only a matter of survival and not a matter of benefiting. The refugee might have appreciated life in the country of origin more than the life in the country of destination. Furthermore, problems might arise when the country of origin will not accept the refugees to repatriate.

The country of origin has the control of letting people out and letting former citizens repatriate. The countries of origin can benefit from keeping people from moving as they may consider the citizens as a necessary asset to the country. For instance, soldiers in war have been forced to stay. On the other hand can out-migration be beneficial for the country of origin as the population might be too high. By losing some of the population there are fewer citizens to feed and protect. If the migrants want to repatriate, the country of origin has the power to reject their former citizens and might do so because the state does no longer see the migrant as an asset to the nation-state. In all, the country of origin dominates who can leave and who can get back in and the reason to dominate rests on what is best for the nation-state and not for the migrant.

What in turn happens to the countries that the migrants go to? Are these nation-states victims of globalisation? As xenophobia and racism is well-known world-wide the quick answer could be that these receiving nation-states are victims and that the immigrants have worsened the living situation in the receiving nation-states. But one should not jump into conclusions. The receiving nation-states are controlling immigration for a reason. There is a point to why some nation-states accept immigrants and some do not. The same nation-states have changed the rates of immigrants depending on which period in time it has been. Immigrants are an asset to the receiving nation-states. But if the immigrants are portrayed as being a burden, the receiving nation-states will get credit for accepting them which is safe to claim as being the case today. Immigrants are an asset simply because they are let in when they are needed. The two main reasons have been uneven demographic development and the need of labour. The receiving nation-states have been in a crisis and immigrants have helped to stabilise the situation. Immigrants can even be an economical benefit to the receiving nation-states as many immigrants enter the nation-states as grown-ups meaning that they are most presumably already educated or skilled workers. Therefore the receiving nation-states do not have to pay for their education or training. On top of that, the immigrant can contribute with new knowledge from the country of origin. The immigrant's worst enemy, negative prejudices, is starting to blur up. I am referring to the prejudiced paradox that immigrants either are lazy and do not work or take all the native jobs. Portray immigrants as a burden to the receiving nation-states because only then will the receiving nation-states be glorified for accepting immigrants.

As the different states are controlling the migrants it is not farfetched to claim that the states are the most beneficial actors influenced by migration. If the migrants were those who were meant to be benefited then migration would have no reason to be controlled by the state.

*Charlene is of the University of Malmo,Sweden. An African born in the diaspora, Charlene has deep interest in her roots

By Charlene Rosander, *