Immigration & Globalization
Immigration cannot be labeled as one of the many byproducts of globalization. People have been migrating for centuries. The reasons for migrating vary. Some people choose to relocate to explore new economic opportunities, some to escape persecution or oppression, others to be closer to family, and others simply to seek a change of scenery. Although the creation of migration cannot be attributed to globalization, the globalization process has given rise to a new kind of immigration. Prior to the 21st century, immigration meant leaving one's home to become a member of another community. Traveling between one's homeland and a recipient country was both time-consuming and expensive. Written correspondence did not allow for people to remain current with the events in one's home country and other means of communication were relatively expensive. With advances in technology, today's immigrants can maintain ties with their home countries. Changes in technology and globalization make full assimilation into the recipient country less necessary. Several countries encourage immigrants to maintain ties with their home country by creating laws that protect property rights of absent individuals and laws that enable immigrants to be dual citizens.
Some globalization supporters uphold this new form of immigration by arguing that the current globalized system brings many economic benefits to both the home country and the recipient country. Immigrants, especially those who bring skilled labor or specialized knowledge, are able to decrease the transactional costs associated with international business thanks to the specialized knowledge they bring about their home country practices. Some globalization critics counteract this argument by pointing out that the current system leads to divided communities because immigrants will no longer have the desire to assimilate into the culture of the second country. Both of these assertions carry some weight. However, given the wide range of reasons underlying a decision to migrate, one must ask if immigration policies can realistically be assessed by using a pro-con or cost-benefit analysis.
- Kunal M. Parker, Official Imaginations: Globalization, Difference and State-Sponsored Immigration Discourses (Nov. 19, 1997).
The article is a critique of immigration policies. The author focuses on Legal Immigration: Setting Priorities, a report published by the United States Commission on Immigration Reform (Commission). The author describes the immigrant as an "instrument" through which a global culture is created. Discussing the role of immigrants in globalization requires one to engage in two discourses: "(i) the discourse of globalization as a cultural phenomenon and (ii) the discourse of difference." In the same way that proponents of immigration argue that the integration of immigrants contributes to the diversity of a population, immigration critics argue that immigrants change the culture of the population to which they are migrating simply by bringing their own culture with them. The author suggests that the Commission's critique of the United States' immigration policies is predominantly economically driven, because the immigrant classes targeted do not provide the same economic benefit as do skill based employment and entrepreneurial investment immigration, which the Commission suggests should be given a higher preference. The article does not address refugee immigration, because of the unique nature of these immigrants' reasons for relocation. There is an increase in the number of immigrants seeking citizenship. The author attributes this rise to federal aid requirements, the cost of renewing green cards versus the cost of obtaining citizenship, the legalization of undocumented aliens by the 1986 Immigration Control Act, and a change in other countries' laws that allows immigrants to have U.S. citizenship and maintain property rights in their home countries.
The article concludes by arguing that the proliferation of the myth as the United States as a successful melting pot promotes forgetting the difficulties associated with the immigration process. The author suggest that forgetting should be avoided because forgetting makes it difficult to analyze global culture, perpetuates the view of the immigrant as a survivor of the Third World, and makes it difficult to recognize the link between the labor class that is growing in the Third World and shrinking in the West.
- Arturo Sanchez, Transnationalism, Not Assimilation, in PLANNERS NETWORK ONLINE (July/Aug. 1999).
Viewing immigration as an essential part of globalization, the author argues that city planners should change the methods they use to analyze immigration. The current methods are outdated because they approach the issue of immigration from the vantage point of the early twentieth century. During that time period, social scientists assumed that people conduct a cost-benefit analysis when deciding to relocate. The problem with this system is that immigrants may not always engage in the extremely rational practice of performing cost-benefit analyses. Immigration used to mean that one had to completely abandon their former country and try to assimilate into the country to which they had migrated. Due to advances in communication and transportation technologies, immigration has come to be more about transnationalism than assimilation. These advances allow migrants to maintain close ties with their home countries. The shift from a nation-centered economy to a global economy has also fostered the development of a new kind of immigration, where migrants are capable of easily moving from their home country to their receiving country. Many home countries actually encourage this transnationalism. The author discusses the Dominican Republic and Colombia, which have changed their laws to allow for dual citizenship. This change in laws allows the migrant to be involved in political activities in both their home country and their receiving country. This change "undermines standard notions of political assimilation." The author argues that globalization is responsible for the development of transnationalism. This transnationalism requires city planners to rethink their methods for analyzing immigration, especially if they want to facilitate the development of communities that respect cultural differences.
- Steven Globerman, GLOBALIZATION AND IMMIGRATION (2001).
This paper was prepared to be presented at Globalization and Immigration: Canada, China and Beyond. The author compares the relationship between international trade and foreign direct investment to the relationship between international trade and immigration. There has been little research studying the relationship between trade or investment flows and immigration. The author attributes this lack of research to the legal restrictions imposed on immigration. The lack of research makes it impossible to assert with any certainty that there is a relationship between the two. Recognizing this, the author still decides to discuss the available research. The Heckscher-Ohlin and Factor-Price Equalization Theorems suggest that international migration and international trade are directly related, specifically when migration is motivated by economic incentives. This theory cannot be effectively applied to the study of migration motivated by non-economic factors, such as relocation to be near family. Immigrants often bring unique knowledge with them that adds to their human capital. This includes information about importing and exporting opportunities in their homeland, familiarity with uncodified business practices, and language skills. Because of their specialized knowledge, people who migrate for employment reasons, may work in such a way that their employment results in the reduction of transactional costs associated with international trade. The article expands on this point by making reference to the international trade and migration relationship between China and Canada. The author concludes by suggesting that the possibility of a correlation between international trade and migration should be taken into consideration when drafting trade agreements.