Migration, International Security, and Development

A recent piece in the Economist explains the importance of remittances to developing countries’ economies. According to the article, which pulls World Bank statistics, foreign worker remittances to home countries are more than double official aid flows from OCED countries. Not only financially, but abroad workers are coming back from developed countries and pushing for political reforms as well. In addition, America’s legacy is one of immigration—from its original inhabitants to the Eastern Europeans migrating during the industrial revolution, and so on.

Remittances have long been touted as important ways of promoting economic trade and finance between two or more countries. Temporary work programs as well as irregular immigration into other countries have been around for a long time. However, coming from a security perspective, this also poses risks. RAND Corporation, in their testimony to the US Congress, “Border Security and the Terrorist Threat” writes, The high volume of illegal overstays in and illegal entries into the United States constitutes a substantial security risk in several ways. First, it spreads the attention and limited resources of  border enforcement across a very large base. Second, it creates a substantial shadow economy in which terrorists and other criminals can hide and a smuggling and transport infrastructure they can exploit. Third, it demonstrates to terrorists how easy illegal entry is. A vital part of security is thus figuring out how to deter illegal visa overstays and immigration.” (11)

So, the question is, do we change our immigration policy in light of security? Can we effectively make security gains by changing our immigration policy? And, in doing so, will those educated masses that come to our home to work and study (we are the “drain” of the brain drain)?


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