Book Review: Human Migration (Opposing Viewpoints)

Human Migration (Opposing Viewpoints), edited by Barbara Krasner

As someone who is generally fond of this series [1], I was more than a little disappointed by this particular volume, mainly because it did not have enough genuinely opposing viewpoints.  Indeed, there was a great slant in this particular book towards those viewpoints that were in favor of unrestrained migration without any sort of rules or structure whatsoever, and among those that were not, a great many of them were (unsuccessful) efforts at trying to appeal to those who were less sanguine about immigration, failing because they did not really see the sort of genuine motivations of those who are opposed to immigration.  Indeed, not nearly enough perspectives were presented here, as the conversation in this book is mainly between various elites with their own agendas to push and often their own perspective about the desirability of the free flow of people and the resulting lack of interest in the well-being of one’s own citizens, because of the ability of being able to import a sufficiently passive and easily exploited class of foreigners rather than do the hard work of creating a nation that benefits its own people without allowing it to attract undesirable elements.

This book is a bit less than 200 pages long and it is divided into four chapters with numerous essays.  After a beginning that vainly attempts to brag about the importance of opposing viewpoints and an introduction, the first part of the book explores how the United States should control its borders (1), with Iranian propaganda mixed with a discussion of the political popularity of more strict border controls and concerns about economics with the usual appeals to the imaginary virtuous circle of open immigration.  After that there is a question of what sort of special rules that refugee immigrants should have, with a lot of whining about people who think that the United States makes it too hard on potentially dodgy and fraudulent asylum seekers and some praise of sanctuary cities and their corrupt behavior (2).  After that there is a discussion of whether or not immigrants weaken a country (3), with claims about immigrants replacing baby boomers and a debate about how much crime illegal immigrants are involved in, which only demonstrates the lack of real data one has about immigration and its worth.  Finally, the book ends with a discussion of DACA and Dreamers and whether it should continue (4), after which there is a bibliography, suggestions for further discussion, organizations to contact, a bibliography of books, and an index.

My own thoughts about migration are somewhat complicated.  I tend to think that a nation’s immigration policies should best suit the well-being of the nation and of its existing citizens.  Likewise, a suitable immigration policy may well change over time based on the change in what would allow for the well-being of those who are already in a place.  Many of the people writing here simply do not realize that acceptance into a people is not something that one can grant with the waving of a wand or the passage of laws.  It requires that newcomers be acceptable to those they wish to be accepted by, and there are various ways that this can be done.  Hardly anyone here thinks to deal with what the ordinary people think, those who are going to be asked to accept strangers as neighbors, and to trust them when they may not be trustworthy, and to hope that they will behave in ways that will not reduce the prosperity and well-being of our existing population.  Until this can be done and spoken about openly and honestly it seems unlikely that we will have any meaningful progress when it comes to immigration and how it should be structured.  Sadly, this book’s conversation is a nonstarter.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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