Migration

The United Nations has produced an interesting video promoting its Global Compact on Migration, which I have discussed just a couple weeks ago. I have no real problems with the first 1’16” of the 2’31” video ~ they are simple statements of fact and I assume the UN is smart enough to not fudge the numbers.

My problems, and I have a few, begin at 1’16” when the propaganda begins.

At 1’33” the video says that the Global Compact will “set clear objectives to make migration safe, orderly and regular.” OK, fair enough, except that I dispute the word order, and, having worked at the plenipotentiary level in a major UN agency, I know, first hand, that the word order was debated because it is perceived to matter. The pretty clear, to me, goal of the Global Compact is to make migration safer … it is a reaction to the problems of African migrants jammed into sinking ships in the Mediterranean and Latin America migrants crossing the US border illegally. Migration was almost never safe for most people … when my ancestors came to Canada it was a dangerous trip in a wooden sailing ship; many died when ships sank or from illness and even starvation:

The point is that migration has always been a risky thing, best done by the brave or the desperate, and maybe that’s how it should be … maybe the migrants we want need to be tougher and braver than anyone else; maybe making migration “safe” is not a really a vitally important idea because migration is already pretty safe for most “regular,” “legal” migrants, it is the “irregular,” more properly “illegal” migrants who must chooses dangerous methods, because the legal ones are off limits to them and that is unlikely to change because of a UN ‘compact’ between nations.

The video also says it want to make migration “orderly and regular” in ways that “address the concerns of the governments and reinforce national sovereignty.” Good; that’s a commendable goal and, in my opinion, that means that any government must be able, for any reason it deems necessary, to turn away any migrant when (s)he approaches or reaches or even crosses its borders. That’s why some governments and many people are concerned, and that’s pretty much what “national sovereignty” means.

Of course, Justin Trudeau’s Canada will happily, even enthusiastically sign on because this is completely consistent with Prime Minister Trudeau’s attempt to implement his father’s vision of the “post-national state.”

We do need a global agreement on migration; it needs to recognize that migration is a very real and ever growing problem and that many nation-states are already responding in ways that will make would-be migrants’ lives even more difficult as they begin to or at least consider ways to close their borders. That creates a problem for countries whose borders are to porous to control or inadequately demarcated. Of course the real problem, the one that Prime Minister Trudeau and Chancellor Merkel and President Trump all want to ignore is why there is such intense pressure to migrate. The answer is, usually, quite simple: a few well armed tyrants make life so miserable for so many people that they have little choice but to flee and look for a better live elsewhere. They are not fleeing to Iran or Russia or Venezuela; they want to come to America, to Australia, to Canada, Europe and New Zealand where liberal and capitalist values and opportunity still prevail … and the people in those countries are, increasingly, unwilling to accept irregular illegal migrants who are unlikely to adapt and contribute to the societies they wish to join. Those countries, in the main, actually want and, mostly welcome immigrants, regular, screened immigrants who come in an orderly flow; they do not want and will not welcome masses of illegal, undocumented migrants streaming across their borders.

The sort of global agreement on migration that is needed is one that says: “We, the nations of the First World, anyway, are going to put a stop to what forces people to flee for their lives and to try to find safety in strange, new lands.” That’s not what Justin Trudeau wants to say but it is, I believe, what a large and growing number of Canadians want to hear from him.

 

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