International Migrants Day passed with a whimper, but…
When the Donald Trump Administration mooted the idea of ending ‘chain migration’ to the United States, many Jamaicans were among those globally who panicked, because filing for relatives back home is one of the main ways of getting them to the US.
The International Organisation for Migration estimated that there were 1.3 million Jamaican-born persons residing abroad in 2018, representing a staggering 36.1 per cent of the national population at the time and establishing the importance of migration to us.
Yesterday, the United Nations observed International Migrants Day to “highlight the urgent need for safe migration governance rooted in solidarity, partnership, and respect for human rights”, according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his message marking the occasion.
The day passed in Jamaica with little more than whimper, likely because of the distractions caused by the Yuletide season which is upon us, or because so many people take the issue of migration for granted.
Migration for Jamaica has been a very sharp two-edged sword. While we would have been in a much deeper hole than we are, had it not been for the constant trek to perceived greener pastures in especially the US, Canada, and Britain, we have also been hit by the brain drain which is not likely to let up soon.
Jamaica, however, is a brief paragraph in the global migration story, which is growing more sordid by the hour. Many governments, regrettably in the richest economies, are railing against immigrants for all the wrong reasons.
Anyone with a sense of geography knows that the planet can easily support the seven billion people currently estimated to exist on Earth. The painful reality, though, is that the share of the world’s resources is so skewed in favour of a few big countries that squalor and poverty thrive in the great many poor countries.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, a new phenomenon seems to be setting in on us. Labour markets are starving for workers, to the extent that even little Jamaica is talking about importing labour. The problem is particularly acute in the US and Canada.
The US is, unfortunately, mired in political conflict, in which the problems on its southern border, where thousands of desperate illegal immigrants are flocking, threaten to overshadow the benefits of migration.
It is well-established that migrants drive economic development, filling gaps in labour demand, creating new avenues for business, and fostering trade connections between their countries of origin, transit and destination.
They also enrich host economies by bringing diverse skills, facilitating knowledge-sharing, and helping to reduce trade costs. The innovative skills that migrants possess and their ability to integrate into local business networks can significantly influence trade dynamics between countries and regions, the UN says.
A study in 2020 by the International Monetary Fund showed that every additional one per cent of immigration has the potential to boost gross domestic product growth by two per cent in destination countries. For Latin America and the Caribbean, remittances have doubled from US$73 billion in 2016 to US$145 billion in 2022.
Sooner than later, all countries must come to the realisation that everyone stands to benefit from organised and planned migration.