Top critical review
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Clues on how to build for the potential of migrants rather than the option of being nasty
on 29 December 2011
As somebody who has lived in many cities (Ankara, Zurich, Glasgow, London, Freiburg, LA, Dubai) it is good to read a positive take on immigration and the benefits immigration can bring. It is certainly true that many mobile people are driven and often more ambitious that the local communities, after all immigrants really have to work for their livelihoods and are looking for a better lot out of life. Certainly existing communities have choices in how they attract immigration and then support them. The principle that communities should look to manage and actively help immigrants to make economic and social success out of immigration is a powerful argument. History is also full of examples of bad laws and attempts to shut down, knock down and impoverish others, often because of ones own failings and insecurities. So, if migration is not understood and dealt with out of fear the communities will be worse off, that is all will be worse off. This book makes the point well.
However the book could do more to explore how communities facing migration need to watch out for those immigrants who are part of the immigration loop who thrive on taking advantage of good people and then move to the next boom town. The book lacks the human storey side of Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. Point is that migration can be great but migrant communities also discriminate and can be cruel within them selves and to new waves of migrants from other places that is no longer their own home village. So part of assimilating migrants needs to involve the principle of accepting other migrants and local customs. This principle of accepting diversity of customs and the wealth it brings needs to be accepted early on. It also nees to be accepted that the current migrant community will hopefully be middle class, if upward mobility is available, but that they will need to show help and tolerance to the next wave.
What are principles that make migration work? Wanting home and land ownership? Access to education and health care? Keeping places clean? Sharing a common language? Jobs? Tolerance? the book could be clearer about articulating the commonalities. Also, what is the role of IOM, UN, EU etc...in migration is there the principle of enough migration? especially given the limited world resources? is it right to prevent migration to preserve the environment or is it ever right?
Over all the book is informative though still clearly written from a western point of view. Why is it that so many places in the world are run in such ways that people want to leave because they sincerely believe they have better opportunities in foreign countries? Surely global migration is a huge drain on the environment and what needs to be in place to help minimise it's effects? Maybe a follow up for arrival cities would be to describe what is needed to stop people wanting to leave or even run away from places. I.e sustainable cities. What is the trick for achieving this?