Wednesday, May 09, 2007

It is not only happening here...

On Monday, May 7 in London, "illegal immigrants" and friends gathered for a Roman Catholic mass, march and rally seeking "earned amnesty" for undocumented residents of the United Kingdom. Considering that Britain is an island and not adjacent to any country whose economy can't feed its citizens, such migrants are quite numerous: the British Home Office says 570,000, while Migration Watch suspects there are more like 870,000 persons in the U.K. without proper papers.

According to the Guardian:

The "Strangers Into Citizens" campaign was joined by faith leaders, immigrants from across the world, community activists and church groups in a gathering in Trafalgar Square, central London.

The campaign is calling for a two-year work permit, without access to benefits, for "irregular" migrants - refused asylum seekers or visa overstayers - who have been in the country for four years or more. ...Under the proposals put by the campaign, those qualifying for a work permit would be given indefinite leave to remain at the end of the two-year period subject to criteria such as an English test, no criminal record and employer and sponsor references. ...

A colourful procession through Whitehall before the rally featured drummers, whistle-blowers, and Latin American bands, playing in spite of driving rain at times.

Some carried banners reading: "Abolish all racist immigration controls." Other banners read: "No one is illegal. Regularisation for all."

Within their own context, British and European Union countries are experiencing the same strains caused by neo-liberal globalization that we are in the United States. Capital -- that is corporate wealth -- is free to wander the globe looking for opportunities to squeeze profit from the cheapest available labor. People -- that is labor -- are not free to migrate under this regime, but they will come where the wealth is, as certainly as a moth flies to a flame.

The rich world needs more equitable immigration policies. But if citizens of the rich world don't want migrants, they/we can only stem the tide by adopting trade and labor policies that enable poor countries to provide a decent life to their own peoples. Only equitable economic development in the poor parts of the world will keep hungry people at home.

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