Conflicted On Immigration: Europe

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Nov 4 16:30:05 UTC 2006

Forwarded from UBC Reports | Vol. 52 | No. 11 | Nov. 2, 2006

Conflicted On Immigration: Europe

By Lorraine Chan

If the worlds migrants were to gather in one place, they would form the
fifth largest nation on earth. One in 35 people is an international
migrant, says anthropologist Gregory Feldman, a UBC research associate who
teaches in the departments of Geography and Anthropology. Feldmans study,
Plans for the others: Harmonizing migration management in Europe, will
probe the contradictory forces of demographics and politics.  Supported by
the Social Services and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), his
research will be completed by 2009. Feldman is particularly interested in
how this phenomenon will play out in Europe, where immigration is an
obvious solution to an aging and shrinking population. However, this draws
fire from European neo-nationalist parties a strong presence since the
1980s which protest immigration and multiculturalism policies and are
pushing governments to frame immigration as a national security issue.

Europe's current population of about 800 million will have dropped by 96
million between 2000 and 2050, says Feldman, adding that migrant labourers
already make up five to 10 per cent of the European Unions population.
These immigrant workers come from throughout the world Africa, the Middle
East, India and Asia especially if the sending country is a former
European colony. In some cases, East and Central European citizens account
for much of EUs migration flow. Last year, for example, Britain received
more than 130,000 new immigrants and almost 60 per cent 73,000 were

This study seeks to understand the tacit assumptions about culture,
security, and national identity that constrain migration policy
discussions, says Feldman. Im hoping these can be reworked to open up
policy debates to a wider range of views. Last month in Lisbon, Feldman
had a chance to gauge policy views when he attended the 11th International
Metropolis Conference, a global research forum on migration policies that
drew more than 900 researchers, activists and public officials. The
current mood indicates that EU members want to get labour into the
country, and also get labour out when they dont need it, says Feldman.

The direction that a lot of EU officials want to go is to facilitate
circular migration, he says, which would make it easy for non-EU migrants
to temporarily work in certain sectors of the economy, then leave, but
have a clear option to return for work again. He reports the top concern
for the European Union (EU) is security, given the relaxed internal
borders of its 25 member states. The EU is trying to slam 25 separate
migration policies into one mega policy. Its really important in terms of
global governance how theyre going to deal with these tensions. Current
proposals call for measures such as tighter surveillance and biometric
data on travel documents and passports that will in effect make all
immigrants and EU citizens transparent once theyre in the system, says

He says the moderate position among EU officials is to link immigration
policy with humane foreign aid, thus fostering greater stability and
economic development within the sending countries. There would be a
commitment to helping with local conflict resolution, for example. A
strategy that also makes a great deal of sense, says Feldman, is helping
newcomers integrate into mainstream European society. That would translate
into less restrictive laws for gaining permanent residency and
citizenship; financial assistance to take courses in the state language;
recognition of professional credentials obtained overseas;  assistance in
navigating state bureaucracies; and schools with programs that gives
special assistance to immigrant needs.

Feldman convenes UBCs Inter-Faculty Initiative on Migration Studies which
seeks to better institutionalize migration studies at the University. UBC
has more than 40 faculty and 80 graduate students working on migration
issues, a number comparable to the size of migration studies institutes
elsewhere in the world.

SSHRC is Canadas federal arms-length funding agency that promotes and
supports university-based research and training in the social sciences and


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list