Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Robert Skidelsky on European refugee crisis

Robert Skidelsky looks at the European immigration crisis in The Failure of Free Migration Project Syndicate 07/18/2016:

In recent years, refugees have mainly been fleeing either persecution or extreme insecurity following state disintegration. We saw this in the Balkans in the 1990s, and in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa in the 2000s. The five million Syrians now in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan are the latest and most dramatic example of this pattern.

For this class of migrant, push factors are by far the most important. But the line between refugees and economic migrants blurs over time. History indicates that most refugees do not return to their country of origin. It takes too long for the feeling of extreme insecurity to subside; and, meanwhile, the lure of a better life takes hold.
He also makes this important observation:

... anti-immigrant sentiment is not based only on prejudice, ignorance, or political opportunism. Anti-immigrant language is not just socially constructed. Words are not mirrors of things “out there,” but they have some relation to such things. You cannot manipulate something unless there is something to manipulate. We have little chance of changing the words unless we alter the realities to which they refer. [my emphasis]

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