Friday, September 02, 2016

Migration, East and West

The dilemma of migration and displacement happens everywhere. Finding solutions means making choices which favor inclusion over already vested interests

Alex John-Henry looks at some of the more arch attitudes to immigration in New Zealand:
The writer of this recent article shares his concerns about immigration..., it seems that unchecked immigration threatens to impede our children from enjoying the wonderful lifestyle we currently enjoy. Won't somebody think of the children...

Well, what does the data say? In the short-term, Statistics New Zealand estimate population growth to be approximately 1.4 - 1.8% per year. This is a reasonably high growth rate by some standards, but similar to comparable countries, such as Australia. In the longer-term, due to a rapidly ageing population, growth is going to slow significantly... there will be fewer of the working-age paying taxes to fund the greater cost of retirement income... increasing the number of working age people in the country will also ease the burden. As the writer points out in his anti-immigration piece - the birth rate is only just above replacement level. We need immigrants, especially working-age immigrants.

Secondly, the writer points out that 25% of all New Zealanders were born overseas, and 40% of Aucklanders are not Kiwi born. Auckland is bursting at the seams and apparently - according to the writer - the foreigners are to blame for this imminent rupture... Auckland does have some problems. Not least of all is the failure of decision makers to ensure infrastructure and housing supply kept up with demand. There is also a wider issue in New Zealand where other parts of the country, for whatever reason, are not viewed as attractive locations for young (and old) workers. Internal migration to Auckland is as much of an issue as immigration...

... The concerned writer also reveals - according to him - the public's anxiety that immigrants don't integrate well and may not share our values. Now, which values are those again? I didn't receive the memo outlining New Zealand's uniform doctrine.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Pacific, Kate Bradshaw on how when it comes to parochial exclusion, as demonstrated in the center of the New Economy, privilege is relative:
... Waging a campaign to turn public opinion in favor of more affordable housing was mentioned by several people as an important starting point. Kate Downing, who became a self-titled "reluctant celebrity" when she recently resigned from the Palo Alto Planning Commission, told the audience that the root of the problem is local city councils. "They decide how much commercial, how much housing is allowed in cities and they decide how fast it happens,...with the full support of wealthy homeowners who don't care about more housing." Pressure on city councils to limit housing growth, she said, comes from people who want to protect their properties. "Those are the hearts and minds you have to change," Downing said.

Menlo Park Councilwoman Catherine Carlton told the audience, "We have to get out there and tell the story that the people who live in affordable homes -- policemen, firemen, teachers -- are good honest, wonderful people that you want to live next door to."
Adina Levin, a Menlo Park transportation commissioner, cited a May 2016 report by the Bay Area Council that says that one-third of Bay Area residents are considering leaving the area.

"What kind of a society has 30 percent of people considering leaving? This is really, really not OK," Levin said. "We are losing people who have lived here for a long time, and we're losing the next generation."

Many observers place the blame on older generations, who see immigration as a threat to the privilege they've accrued. But many of them are also the most willing to stand up against exclusion:
At 88, Jim Macken figures he does not have anything better to do than offer to trade places with a refugee being held on Nauru. "I’ve only got a year or so to live but a refugee who comes here might have 50 years to live so it’s no big deal from my point of view,” he told SBS News. Mr Macken is a former justice of the industrial court of New South Wales and a Member of the Order of Australia. 
He is also a life member of the Australian Labor party, which he calls a "once great political party".
Mr Macken said he was appalled by Australia's offshore detention policy and has written to the immigration minister, Peter Dutton and offered to swap places with a refugee held on Nauru or Manus Island. "When you’re going to die, you want to die with a bit of a clear conscience," he said. "I can’t believe that anybody would have run up the hill at Anzac Cove if they’d known Australia was going to do things like this.”

Finally a look into the abyss, where refugees are used as pawns in regional influence. The BBC reports on the fate of displaced Afghans, now that Pakistan finds them no longer useful:
The future is now uncertain for many Afghan refugees. Khalid Amiri, a 21-year-old student, has lived in Pakistan since he was a few months old. He is now studying a Master's programme at Peshawar University, which does not finish until the end of 2017. He and around 9,000 other Afghan students in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are not sure if they will be allowed to complete their courses.

Khalid believes the moves to force refugees out are due to "growing Afghano-phobia in Pakistan". He says there has been "increased harassment of refugees by Pakistani police", and "a hate campaign against the refugees in the Pakistani media since the [December 2014 attack on Peshawar's] Army Public School". The hate has spread to social media in recent months, with "hashtags like #KickOutAfghans and #AfghanRefugeesThreat", he says.

The prospects for Afghan businessmen are even dimmer. Mohammad Ismail's father left behind his antiques business in Ghazni and migrated to Peshawar in 1983. Here they made a fresh start and established themselves as certified exporters of antiques and rugs to Europe and the Far East. But in June, Mohammad's children who were on vacation in Kabul were stranded there when the Torkham border was closed down. They have since obtained Afghan passports and visas for Pakistan, which means they have lost refugee status. He now has to start from scratch, like his father did 33 years ago.

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