Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Migrants, foreigners, immigrants, expatriates, emigrants, outsiders, refugees, travellers...we're everywhere.

A recent BBC report notes a UN study showing that nearly 200 million people now live outside of their country of origin, with most of them going to rich countries. I got priced out of one rich country and moved to another. The Pakistani taxi drivers I met and talked with in Dubai last December moved from a poor country to a considerably richer one. We're both sending remittances back home - me to service my own debts, them to support their families in Islamabad or Lahore. I'd bet though that I'm treated better in my host country than they are in theirs, which is certainly not a boast. Apparently a high share of national income for places like The Philippines comes from money sent by money transfers.

If Bush gets his anti-immigration push through in the US, there'll undoubtedly be other huge consequences beyond the American borders, such as possible large slumps in other national economies (let alone the American one). Interestingly, the US has the highest number of international migrants at around one fifth. With the greatest of respect to many of the good people of America, it's not somewhere that I'd have ranking high on my list of places to migrate to. An American friend tells me of the palpable climate of fear stalking across Bushland right now. Still, if I found myself having to live in somewhere like New York or San Francisco for some reason, I'm pretty sure that I'd find a way of coping!

Japan ranks 20th in the UN report, with an apparent 2 million international migrants, behind Kazakhstan, Côte d’Ivoire and Jordan.

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