Saturday, June 9, 2007

Immigration everywhere

Pundits in the States no doubt will devote this weekend to the demise of the immigration compromise that a bipartisan group of Senators'd cobbled together. We knew the bill was doomed when: opponents on 1 side dubbed it the Asian and Latino Exclusion Act of 2007; opponents on the other side broadcast 3 septuagenarians wandering 'round Arizona asking "Where's the Fence?"; and no one in the middle could find a good thing to say about the package as a whole.
Listening to the debate, you'd think that everyone in the world is trying to move to the United States. In reality, though, migration to, and from, the United States is part of a pattern playing out all over the planet.
Recent events in the Eastern Hemisphere stand as reminders that larger truth. 1st, a "Spanish tug collected a group of 26 migrants in distress within Libya’s search and rescue zone and while the Armed Forces of Malta had supplied humanitarian aid to the vessel, permission to land the migrants in Malta was apparently denied on the basis that rescue had been undertaken outside Malta’s search and rescue zone." Then "27 shipwrecked Africans" clung for days "to tuna nets in the Mediterranean while Malta and Libya argued over who should rescue them." Not long after their rescue by the Italian Navy, a "French Navy ship found 18 bodies floating south of Malta." Days earlier, Maltese authorities'd "lost contact with a boat that was photographed carrying 53 African migrants."
The predictable response to the tragedies? Fingerpointing. Spanish immigration secretary María Consuelo Rumí (right) announced that Spain's filed a complaint against Malta respecting the 1st incident. The European Commissioner responsible for migration matterss said Malta's "failing to meet its international responsibilities to save lives at sea." Maltese officials' retort: the European Union's reneged on its promises to patrol boats headed to Malta, an island state of 400,000 people where 2,000 Africans landed last year. That's 6 times more "illegal migrants than, say, the Netherlands."
There, here, and elsewhere, it's time not only for the "burden-sharing" of which all Europeans seem to speak, but also for a migration policy that is fair and humane and that, like migration itself, spans the globe.


Diane Marie Amann said...

See, in like vein: Nayan Chanda, "Globalization Comes Full Circle," San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 2007, at E1, available at

kyledeb said...

I came across this post through the ImmigrationProf Blog. I've been talking about the global roots of immigration for a long time over at Immigration Orange. Let me know if you'd be interested in a link exchange and further collaboration. Email me at kyledeb at gmail dot com.