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Making Sense of Migration

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Migration Research Paper
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Global economy as well as how society relates is greatly influenced by migration. Throughout history migration has facilitated human interaction which has led to the spread and advancement of humanity as a whole. Migration facilitates the movement of labour, the transfer of ideas, diffusion of new technology and interaction of various cultures. It is therefore important to understand the trends in migration and the factors causing migration. Migration trends also need to be understood in terms of the characteristics of immigrating groups. In so doing the cause behind the migration of these groups becomes evident.
This research tackles the factors causing immigration whilst paying special attention to the role played by government policy and state action. This is mainly because emigration and immigration have, over the years, become state affairs transcending the personal requirements of individuals. Countries have adopted strict laws, policies and protocols that guide the emigration and immigration processes. The paper established a deep correlation between these laws, policies and protocols and the migration patterns. This was after analysis of available migration statistics as well as government policy and state action. The latter was found to have a rooted influence on the former either directly or indirectly. In the direct influence, government policy presents a push or pull factor that necessitated migration. In the indirect influence, government policies affect other push or pull factors that in turn accept migration.
Thesis Statement
The current government policies, laws and protocols coupled with relevant state action impact the global emigration and immigration trends.
In order to fully address the thesis statement, the research paper is organised into three sections that will tackle each section of the thesis statement. The first section deals with studying information related to global migration trends. Six countries selected will be observed in terms of their immigrant data. These are: Canada, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, France and Cambodia. The research will, however, not be limited to these six countries. Comparisons will be drawn outside of these countries if need be.
The second section of the paper looks at the factors causing the varied migration trends as seen in the first section. Are these factors tied to government policy or state action? In addition, how does government policy or state action directly influence the migration patterns witnessed in the first section? This second section will look at relevant examples of government policies and state actions that have influenced migration trends. The third and final section will relate section 1 and two and draw an appropriate conclusion on the thesis statement
Description of Volume and Composition of Immigration
In order to further investigate the validity of the thesis statement at hand, it is important that the volume and composition of immigration be analysed first. To understand fully the effect of state action as one of the crucial factors influencing immigration trends, the trends themselves need to be understood. Data for the immigration trends for the countries in question was obtained from the Migration Policy Institute Data Hub. The data describes the migrant populations as well as the migration patterns in terms of volume and composition factoring in aspects like gender of immigrants. The countries analyzed were Canada, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, France and Cambodia. Saudi Arabia, Canada and France are observed as having a general increase in the total number of immigrants over time. By 2013, Saudi Arabia had the highest number of immigrants; just over 9 million. France and Canada’s numbers were steady at around 7 million each. The other three countries recorded significantly lower levels of immigrant populations. Ghana and Cambodia’s numbers were well over the 1 million mark. New Zealand has a total immigrant population of 1,133,000 by mid-2013.
The next set of data looks at the number of types of immigrants into Canada from the considered countries. The three parameters examined were the total number of immigrants in 2013, the number of refugees in 2012 and the number of asylum seekers in 2012 from the five origin countries. New Zealand neither had refugee immigrants nor asylum seekers in Canada in 2012. Additionally, it recorded the lowest number of total immigrants into Canada at 12,000 as compared to the other countries. New Zealand was followed closely by Saudi Arabia and Ghana with each having 16,000 and 22,000 immigrants respectively. Cambodia registered 23,000 immigrants and France led the pack with 101,000 total immigrants. However it is important to note that France had the lowest numbers of refugees and asylum seekers after New Zealand which had none. Ghana led Cambodia in terms of the number of refugees and asylum seekers. Cambodia was followed by Saudi Arabia. The trend in the number of refugees was strikingly similar to that of asylum seekers. Ghana, which had the highest number of refugees (356), also had the highest number of asylum seekers (92). The order was also the same for both refugees and asylum seeker; Ghana, Cambodia, Saudi Arabia, France and lastly New Zealand.
Canada’s foreign-born immigration population formed 20.7% of the total Canadian population in 2013. Out of the 7.2 million immigrants 3.8 million constituted male immigrant and the 3.4 million were female immigrants. This was an increase as compared to the year 2011 which witnessed 6.7 total immigrants in Canada. The 2013 statistics show a 50-50 share between male and female immigrants though the male immigrant population was slightly higher by 200,000. In terms of the composition of the Canadian immigrant population, Asians formed the largest group of immigrants according to recent statistics. It is also worth noting that the immigrant flow from Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas also increased slightly. Also in terms of composition a majority if the Canadian immigrants were foreign workers followed by economic immigrants. Refugees and family class immigrants were the lowest type of immigrants recorded as of 2008.
The general immigrant flow and composition of the Canadian immigrant population can be put up against other countries that differ in terms of, say, policy. A case in point is the Australian immigration trend. Recent Australian immigrants are performing better than their previous counterparts as well as Canadian immigrants in terms of labour market success. This has seen an exponential growth in the number of Austarlian immigrants in recent history. Canadian immigration, which has seen a gradual rise over the years, has been regarded by many as an outlier as pertains to immigration policy and statistics. The 2013 numbers were the highest as compared to the G8 group of developed nations. The reference to Canadian’s outlying immigration statistics forms part of constant debates about the American immigration policies. In 2012, America recorded a total of 40.8 immigrants who formed 13% of the total population as compared to Canada’s 20.7%. Politicians, law makers and professionals alike attribute this difference to multiculturalism and a positive attitude towards the economic benefits of immigrants that characterises Canada’s immigration laws.
Factors Influencing Contemporary Immigration
It is paramount, for the purpose of this research, that a correlation be established between the already looked at statistics and the factors influencing migration, more so state action and policy. In so doing, a base for assertion or disapproval of the thesis statement can be informatively formed.
Factors influencing immigration can be categorised into two broad groups; pull factors for immigration and push factors for immigration. Push factors refer to undesirable conditions in origin countries that may force immigrants to relocate to destination countries. For instance poverty that could be caused due to lack of jobs often forces immigrants from developing to move to developed ones. The International Labour Organisation cites lack of employment as the major push factor for immigration. India has experienced a surge in job-related emigration levels. Canada records about 30,000 new citizens that were previous Indian citizens. The lack of employment in India can be attributed to failure in government policy to create jobs as well as high population levels. Other push factors for immigration include civil strife, political unrest and religious persecution. All these allude to a general state of insecurity in the origin country; a state which pushes many immigrants to seek solace in the various destination countries. In 2011, there were a total of 35.4 million people categorised as the ‘population of concern’. This number incorporates refugees, displaced persons and asylum seekers. For instance Iraqi refugees resettled by the Government of Canada stood at 18,200 as of December 2013. The government is looking to fast track to its target of 20,000 by 2015. The war in Iraq has been affected by government policy of, not only the origin nation, but also other involved countries like the United States. Aggravation of the situation in Iraq has resulted in more immigration with Canada resettling 1 in every 10 Iraqi refugees. Environmental conditions as well as the level of health care in origin countries are also listed as a push condition for immigration. A look at the nature of the examples of push factors influencing organisation reveals a correlation between these factors and government policies. Government policy in India is to be blamed for the current job crisis. The input of involved government is the Iraqi war cannot be over-emphasized. It is also worth noting that the impact of government policy on immigration is indirect when it comes to push factors. In the cases looked at, government policy and state actions influences the push factors, for instance job availability or insecurity levels. These push factors then force residents of origin countries to move.
Pull factors tend to influence immigration more directly. These are factors within the destination countries that ‘attract’ immigrants of different kinds. Religious and political freedom in destination countries fosters the resettlement of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons. A country that has embraced multiculturalism like Canada is seen by religious and political refugees as best suited for their resettlement. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act that was officially incorporated in 1988 asserts this. Canada was among the pioneer countries that embraced multiculturalism as per the Multiculturalism Policy of Canada of 1971. Embracing multiculturalism fosters equality and shuns discrimination on the basis of religion, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political views amongst other forms of discrimination. This is in contrast with other radical countries like Uganda which enacted the Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014. Uganda could soon be joined by the likes of Gambia which could also soon enact such nationwide laws. Another example is the strict laws that exist in Islamic countries that are governed under Sharia law. The hostility of the laws in the origin countries act as push factors and the multicultural Canadian society could be act as pull factors.
Labour export has become a major global trading method preferred mainly because of less capital investments on the part of the exporting countries. Less-developed countries have positioned themselves to maximise on the remittances offered by their developed counterparts as a result of exported labour. Developing countries earn over 1 billion US dollars annually due to deliberate labour exports according to a World Bank report published in 2008. More developing countries are enacting laws that facilitate temporary migration on the basis of employment. Labour export policies also provide for structured and deliberate labour export that is facilitated by designated institutions of labour. These institutions also set Labour Standards for their emigrant population. Labour Standards protect workers from exploitation in foreign countries. The pull factors in this case could be accommodating labour laws by the destination countries as well. For example the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program contains rules and regulations that employers and foreign employees subscribe to. The Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) ensures hiring of only quality and competent individuals. This ensures that labour exports into Canada comprise of a ‘tradable’ workforce that will positively impact Canada’s economy. This cements Peitchinis’ assertion in, ‘The Canadian Labour Market’, where he states that Canada prefers certain groups of immigrants to others. As statistics showed, immigrants seeking employment formed a bulk of Canada’s immigrant population. Peitchinis however states that skilled labour is more preferred to unskilled labour because of their larger contribution to the growing labour market.
After evaluating the trends in migration as well as the factors causing it, a correlation between government policy and trends in migration can be established. Countries with a friendly immigration laws such as Canada are seen as ‘immigration-friendly’. In addition, developing countries with a higher employment opportunities and better pay also experience a larger flow of immigrants. Insecurity and lack of jobs can be attributed to failed government policies. Additionally, state actions in relation to wars, such as the aforementioned war in Iraq, have led to the aggravation of the situation. This has resulted in more emigrants in the form of displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugees. Government intervention is evident in terms of deliberate labour export. Institutions have been set up to facilitate the export of labour from developing countries to their developed counterparts. Consequently governments have directly influenced the flow of emigrants from their country in order to gain from the trade. Taking all these factors into consideration, the paper’s findings show that government policy and state action is tied to the migration flows in a given country.
Amirault, D., de Munnik, D., & Miller, S. (2013). Explaining Canada's Regional Migration Patterns. Bank of Canada Review.
Escobar, L. A., Martin, P., C., L. G., & Donato, K. (2014). Factors that Influence Migration.
International Migration Statistics. (2014). Retrieved from Migration Policy Institute:
Li, W. (2009). Changing Immigration, Settlement and Identitites in the Pacific Rim. New Zealand Population Review.
Martin, P. L., & Widgren, J. (2002). International Migration: Facing the challenge. Washington DC: Population Reference Bureau.
Peitchinis, S. G. (1975). The Canadian Labour Market. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
Plante, J. (2010). Characteristics and Labour Market Outcomes of Internationally-educated Immigrants. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.
Walton-Roberts, M. (2009). Immigration to Canada: Local and Global Trends. International Migration Research Centre.

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