Migration is certain to continue growing as people set out to pursue their dreams of a better life, better career opportunities, a safer environment and world-class education and opportunities for their children, a US-based expert said recently.
Dianne Stewart, founder and president of Pathway USA, said with this growth come the complexities and challenges that accompany a worldwide upheaval of this magnitude.
Pathway USA is a relocation advice and referral service for legal immigrants to the United States.
Stewart believes that without a doubt these challenges can be turned into opportunities to the benefit of all. Her statement comes at a time when the issue of migration is tearing rich countries’ political circles apart, and far-right parties in the developed world seem to have hijacked and politicised the issue to push for their macabre political agendas.
As a result, incidents of xenophobia, racism and ill-treatment of migrants are reportedly on the increase across the US, Canada, the European Union and Australia, among others.
However, South Africa-born Stewart pointed out that from a global perspective, migration was becoming more relevant and important due to the current global economic environment. “Migrants make important contributions to the economic prosperity of their host countries, and the flow of financial, technological, social and human capital back to their countries of origin helps to reduce poverty and stimulate economic development there as well,” she said.
For example, she added, remittances (money sent back home) feed and educate children and generally improve the living standards of loved ones left behind. Officially recorded remittances to developing countries reached US$440 billion in 2015, according to independent statistics.
“When remittances to high-income countries are included, the figure is estimated to reach $586 billion. In many countries, remittances are larger than either official development assistance or foreign direct investment,” Stewart, who moved to the US (North Carolina) in 2001, said.
Driven by increasing globalisation, migration is an important development force and in many developed countries, declining fertility and working-age populations have led to rising demand for workers from abroad to sustain national economies.
Economic migrants are the world’s fastest growing group of migrants, and many countries that once sent workers abroad are now experiencing migrant inflows as well, the United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNPFA) said in a recent report, adding that in 2015, 244 million people, or 3.3% of the world’s population lived outside their country of origin.