To what extent do you agree with the statement that concerns over immigration levels often relate to identity and culture more than to the economy. Use examples to illustrate your argument.
Almost all economists are in agreement that immigration has positive economic effects. Indeed in the United States it “provides natives with a net benefit of at least $80,000 per immigrant, or as much as $10 billion annually” (Bolin, 2006). However despite this there are huge numbers of advocacy groups pushing the pros and cons immigration to the populations of the host countries, with natives having negative views towards immigration (McLaren & Johnson, 2007). Through the course of this essay I will examine whether the root cause of these often xenophobic views towards immigration have root causes in economic reasons (immigrants taking jobs from natives, and leading to lower wages) or symbolic reasons, where the natives are fearful that the immigrants will bring their culture to the host country and cause change. Enoch Powell, the Conservative British politician, gave a warning that immigrants were causing such strife that “like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood” (Powell, 1969). This turned out to be nonsense, and his advice that immigrants should be encouraged to leave, would have left Britain, and many other countries that rely on cheap foreign labour in a horrific state of affairs. Immigrants are now taking far longer to integrate into their host country and this is upsetting many natives. “In the past a third-generation migrant, for example in America, would have been expected to have shed much of his grandparents’ identity” (The Economist, 2008), not speaking his mother tongue and having little loyalty to the country his family originated from. This is changing “as migrants feel loyalty to more than one country” (The Economist, 2008). For example, Moroccans in Europe, even fourth generation, are encouraged by the Government to identify with the African country, and are granted Moroccan citizenship under the constitution. As many source countries such as India and China grow intent on gaining remittances from their émigrés, “migrants even several generations on may come under great pressure to retain some of their old identity” (The Economist, 2008). This can all lead to immigrants never becoming fully integrated into the host country, causing social problems such as immigrants bunching together in the same place. Due to globalisation and time-space compression, it has become far easier for migrants to emigrate further away from their own country, this causes problems as they subsequently have little in common with their host country and find it harder to integrate into the community. Traveling long distances to emigrate is no longer a problem and in the future there will be the problem of “people moving greater distances and settling among different ethnic, religious and cultural groups” (The Economist, 2008), meaning they will have problems integrating. “Danes in Sweden or Albanians in Greece have little trouble integrating into the relatively familiar societies next door. Even Poles in Ireland prosper, perhaps thanks to the incomers’ good standard of education and skill and the shared Catholic faith. But Iraqis in Sweden, Somalis in Canada or Pakistanis in Norway typically find integration harder” (The Economist, 2008). Samuel Huntington blames this on the “great divisions among humankind” (Huntington, 1993) that are the differences between civilisations. He believes that immigration will ‘intensify civilization consciousness and awareness of differences between civilizations and commonalities within civilizations’ (Huntington, 1993). This leads to a ‘them versus us’ attitude, with the natives having the xenophobic view that the immigrants are qualitatively different from themselves. As the natives of the host country would have spent time constructing “discursive...
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