International Labor and Migration
C.S. Lewis once said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind”. This quote by the famous author can be applied for all people who leave or move from their countries of origin. But is this really true? Migration is the movement of people to a new location in plans of temporarily or permanently staying in that place. This often happens between developing countries and developed countries, but internal migration is also possible. Migration is a natural social phenomenon, but over the years it became an issue for some people. There are 150 million migrant workers among approximately 244 million international migrants in the world (International Labour Migration, n.d.). Furthermore, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2015) announced that worldwide displacement was at a staggering number of 59.5 million people, the highest ever recorded, forcibly displaced at the end of 2014. These migrants moved because of three main reasons: war and persecution, economic opportunity, and environment (AJ+, 2014). However, there are plenty of migrants and refugees who are denied access to a safe and beneficial stay in another country. This is an issue that tackles the legal and human rights of these migrants. I favor international labor and migration because of its benefits such as economic advancements, political freedom and safety.
International labor and migration bringing economic advancements that can be beneficial to the host countries as well as the countries of origin is my first argument. Many people want to migrate to countries with higher income economies to find employment opportunities and better living conditions. More than two-thirds of the world’s migrants live in high income countries, and most of them go to America (AJ+, 2014). Notably, developing countries benefit from remittances sent home by migrants (Embrace, n.d.). Remittances are important sources of external finance that can support countries that are affected by economic and political problems. Adams and Page (2005) proved that international migration and remittances lessen poverty greatly in the developing world. This was based from their study that covered 71 developing countries in the world. According to the International Centre for Migration, Health and Development (2013), there are about 869 million workers that are living in extreme poverty. Fortunately, migration brings about job opportunities for people who seek employment from other countries. Meanwhile, host countries’ economic growth is sustained, for job vacancies and skill gaps are taken by migrants. The pension gap can also be filled by the contributions of new young workers who also pay taxes (Embrace, n.d.). Thus, unemployment is reduced and younger migrants improve their future prospects.
My second reason for favoring international labor and migration is that all people have the right to choose what kind of government they want to live under. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, 1948) clearly states in Article 13 that all people have the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and the right to leave any country, including their own, and to return to their country. People living under authoritarian regimes would most likely want to immigrate to a freer country. This is because authoritarian leaders control activities without any significant participation by the citizens. Moreover, an authoritarian regime runs on strict authority and the fear of the people. Freedom House (2014) reports that out of 7.1 billion people in the world, there are 2.4 billion people still living in “not free” nations in political terms, and 1.8 billion people living in “partly free” countries that have some factors of democracy, but still place restrictions on political rights such as freedom of speech or the right to form opposition parties. Due to the statistics, it is proven that even some democratic countries have some form of limitations. According to Ilya Somin (2014), even citizens of democratic countries plan to immigrate because of their type of government. They are not satisfied with the policies and services of their government. A democratic government can often prevent the abuse of power, but it is not enough to give the citizens meaningful political freedom. If governments do not use force to prevent migration, an individual or a family can move from one nation to another regardless of people who agree or disagree. Migration rights enable individuals to have a genuinely decisive say in choosing the policies they wish to live under.
My third argument as to why international labor and migration is beneficial for people is because of the safety it provides for people in need. Not all people who emigrate are voluntarily leaving their country, for some of them are forced to leave because of circumstances beyond their control. The biggest refugee communities are Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria, and only 14% of the world’s refugees are taken in by the developed countries (AJ+, 2014). War and persecution are two important issues in the world today, and many people are trying to escape their countries because of these. These people are in search of a safe place for asylum, and countries are obligated to take them in because of Article 14 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that all people have the right to seek in other countries an asylum from persecution, and this right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations (United Nations, 1948). Recently, Western developed countries became stricter with migrant policies. Europe is trying to block migrants before they reach its territory, which makes it more and more difficult to enter with each passing year. The result is disastrous as approximately 15,000 people died trying to reach Europe from 1988-2010 (edeos- digital education, 2011). Just like with migrants seeking political freedom, refugees have also the right to enter a country without restrictions. Another reason people will seek safety in another country is because of environmental problems they are experiencing in the countries they came from. Rising sea levels, earthquakes and droughts are some of the things the world is experiencing due to climate change. Norman Myers (2011) mentions that more than 25 million people were displaced by environmental factors in 1995, and claimed that more than 200 million people could be affected by future climate change as global warming worsens. Under these circumstances people immigrate to avoid the dangers happening in their countries.
In contrast, some people argue that citizens under authoritarian regimes do not have to migrate to another country for them to have another kind of government. The citizens can try and change their government through actions or words, whichever they prefer. This will not only benefit them, but also for the benefit of future generations in their country. There are many objections for citizens of authoritarian regimes to immigrate to another country because many developed countries refuse to let them in. This reason can cause these migrants to be victims of poverty as well. Unfortunately, this type of migrant is often found enduring many forms of human rights violations. The loss of political freedom is a very significant reason against restrictions on immigration. Meanwhile, most people say that citizens having the privilege to live in a democratic country should not complain since they are given their rights, unlike in an authoritarian country. They are given more freedom and more confidence to voice their opinions to the government. Somin (2014) reveals that some people think that if they have to accept immigrants into their country, it can cause to vitiate their own freedom to choose their government’s policies. For example, the migrants could vote for policies that are against the interests of natives. This being the case, the political freedom of potential migrants is not an absolute right that always trumps all other considerations.
Granting that the citizens will gather the courage to try to democratize their country, it is still highly dangerous and nearly impossible to change their form of government. Most of the citizens are unwilling to take risks, since they will be punished severely once they fail. According to Somin (2014), these kinds of societies still lack cultural and economic preconditions to establish a liberal democracy. The most practical way for people to escape authoritative power is to emigrate. If developed democratic states refuse migrants to enter, they will deprive of them their political freedom to choose what kind of government they want to be under. They will become equally guilty for preventing people who are just making their living situations better. That being the case, people will still find a way to get inside a country. If the migrants are truly desperate, they will become illegal migrants. Citizens of democratic states argue that they make little difference with their votes due to other millions of people also voting to try and make a difference. This is further undermined by corruption and other forces that make it difficult for electorates to influence government policy. Furthermore, the right to political freedom certainly does not encompass the power to destroy the political freedom of other people, especially when the only kind of political freedom they have left is to migrate to another country. Eventually, freer international migration can increase political freedom for a multitude of people, even though it is not an absolute solution for political oppression.
International labor and migration has been a double-edged sword over the years. It posed some advantages and disadvantages that many people have come to enjoy and dread. Immigrant workers have increased drastically over the last few years due to the globalization of the world. Thanks to this, economic growth between the host countries and countries of origin are sustained and developed. On the other hand, more and more people are starting to exercise their political freedom to make a choice. Additionally, migration is a way to find safety and security for people who are in need of protection from environmental problems and conflicts from their countries of origin. All moves are consequential for the individuals involved, but some migration patterns have broader implications. The twentieth century witnessed a number of consequential migrations that helped reshape culture, politics, or economic structures (Gregory, n.d.). I stand by my prior statement that I favor international labor and migration because of its benefits such as economic advancements, political freedom and safety.
A. Attention Grabber: C.S. Lewis once said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind”. This quote by the famous author can be applied for all people who leave or move from their countries of origin. But is this really true?
B. Background Information: There are 150 million migrant workers among approximately 244 million international migrants in the world (International Labour Migration, n.d.). These migrants moved because of three main reasons: war and persecution, economic opportunity, and environment (AJ+, 2014). However, there are plenty of migrants and refugees who are refused of their rights to a safe and beneficial stay in another country.
C. Thesis Statement: I favor international labor and migration because of its benefits such as economic advancements, political freedom and safety.
A. 1st Argument: Economic Advancements
B. 2nd Argument: Political Freedom
C. 3rd Argument: Safety
D. Counter-argument and Rebuttal: Political Freedom
E. Rebuttal: Political Freedom
Adams, R., Jr., & Page, J. (2005). Do international migration and remittances reduce poverty in developing countries? Retrieved from the World Bank website: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTAFROFFCHIECO/Resources/Migration_and_Remittances.pdf
AJ+ (2014, August 3). This is why people migrate [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQHHNuc-1uA
edeos- digital education (2011, December 14). International migration [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOZmqIwqur4
Embrace (n.d.). The pros and cons of migration. Retrieved March 22, 2016, from https://www.embraceni.org/migration/the-pros-and-cons-of-migration/
Freedom House (2014). The democratic leadership gap. Retrieved from the Freedom House website:
Gregory, J. (n.d.). Retrieved April 3, 2016, from http://faculty.washington.edu/gregoryj/Internal_migration.htm
International Centre for Migration, Health and Development (2013, August 16). Globalization, economic development and the benefits of labor migration. Retrieved from https://icmhd.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/globalization-economic-development-and-the-benefits-of-labor-migration/
International Labour Migration (n.d.). Labour migration. Retrieved March 22, 2016, from http:// http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/labour-migration/lang–en/index.htm
Myers, N. (2011, October 19). Environmental refugees: a growing phenomenon of the 21st century. Retrieved from the National Center for Biotechnology Information website:
Somin, I. (2014, January 20). Immigration and political freedom [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://openborders.info/blog/immigration-and-political-freedom/
United Nations (1948, December 10). The universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved April 3, 2016, from http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2015, June 18). Worldwide displacement hits all-time high as war and persecution increase. Retrieved April 2, 2016, from http://www.unhcr.org/558193896.html