"Nevertheless, just as I don't think the world's problems can be solved without addressing the population question, I also don't think they can be solved if we don't address the more traditional questions of wealth and political power."&emdash;James Sinnamon, in defending Naomi Klein against criticism
I agree with James on this issue. Yes, I am angered with the liberal/left's collusion with the neo-liberal agenda of open immigration, of its misuse of the hackneyed phrase "solidarity" to justify support for importing cheap migrant labour to crush the living standards of local workers and despoil our national environment and multiply the ecological footprint of the migrants themselves. But I am also frustrated by the blindness of the red neck wing of the American anti immigration movement that takes no responsibility for the factors which PUSH migrants out of their third world countries.
These countries have been ravished by decades of iniquitous trade agreements that have extorted resources from them at bargain basement prices, causing them to forfeit self-sufficiency, destroy natural capital, and strip social services to pay off debt charges that the IMF dictates must be paid. We need to look no further than Mexico to see what a trade agreement can do to destroy a rural economy. Where do these people go? Where do poor farmers and the ancillary small business workers destroyed by the US corporate invasion go? Where did the farmers of Britain go after the enclosure movement? We tend only to look at the "Pull" factor of better paying jobs in the factories of the Industrial Revolution, or the factories in America. But we conveniently forget that there is a whip behind these workers, who, if you interviewed them, never wanted to leave their families back home.
Stopping immigration successfully cannot simply be about keeping people "out". It has also got to be about giving people reasons to stay where they are. To me, that means scrapping these larcenous trade agreements, delivering restitution to developing nations for the ruin caused to their environments, and massive foreign aid tied to family planning. Closing our borders but not our backs, our eyes or our hearts to the world. Not for their sake. For our ours.
Because history shows that walls are at best a temporary remedy. We can't play King Kanute indefinitely to an unrelenting tide of desperate tens of millions. Currently, three percent of humanity is on the move, and we seem to have difficulty marshalling the resolution to deal with that traffic. Should that proportion rocket to even ten percent, it is doubtful that any border control will remain any more impregnable than the Maginot Line or the Great Wall of China was to the armies that by-passed them. Wake up, let's get realistic here.
Push, Pull. Two factors. Deal with both, or you are not dealing with the problem of immigration.
See also: Closing our borders can't mean turning our backs of 25 Oct 07