Exploring the history and experiences of mixed heritage persons and inter-racial relationships across the world
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" - Emma Lazarus, Statue of Liberty
The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy in many countries that are experiencing positive growth in immigration levels.
Truth is, most humans migrate to improve their chances of survival; South Central Americans move to Mexico, Mexicans move to the USA, Americans go elsewhere to Canada and Hawaii. Survival may come in the form of an asylum seeker running away from a war or persecution, a refugee in forced migration due to the lack of food and water, a respondent to better opportunities in countries that require replacement migration to maintain their working population to an economic migrant, sometimes illegal, intending to feed the family left behind to. The World Bank estimates that remittances from immigrants to their 'home' countries totaled $317 billion in 2009. Many believe at its worst, Zimbabwe's economy would have totally collapsed with remittances.
Following the mass movements of people after the Second World War the loss of most of the colonies for most powers introduced a new source of immigrants. As newly independent countries descended in national and civil wars, tribalism and dictatorship more and more people sought refuge in Europe, the USA and other 'well off' countries. With the political pressure on governments to control the tide, many officials used all manner of tricks to stem this tide, for example, many asylum seekers found themselves branded economic migrants and detained or deported. Many people don't know that for every one asylum seeker in Europe and the USA, hundreds more are herded together in refugees camps in neighboring countries so much so that some of these countries have positive immigration rates! Asylum seeking is in no way a 'First World' specific problem.
Not all the migration stems from refugees. Many of Africa's and Latin America's young talent come to Europe and the USA legally on student visas, study and train and then find that they have the opportunity to remain and work usually in better conditions than those back home. Thousands of nurses that staff the hospitals in the UK are a classic example of this kind of migration. If not training them, the developed countries have only started to try and control the 'brain drain' from developing countries that they contribute to. These immigrants are likely to bring family so increasing the numbers.
Illegal immigration is also not just a European or USA problem, many countries which provide a better chance of survival has the problem. The more difficult it is made to become a legal migrant, the bigger the problem of illegal immigration. Like asylum seeking, the majority of illegal immigrants tend to go into neighboring countries as opposed to going overseas. Immigration to a neighboring country makes it easier to merge into the general population especially if you look alike and speak the same language as the case in many Latin American countries. In places like Africa, for example the Zimbabweans in South Africa, language maybe an issue but you are less likely to stand out.
Mainly for language and cultural reasons, many immigrants that make it to Europe or the USA tend towards the ex-colonising country of origin and so Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the USA bear the brunt of ex-colony immigration. Portugal's legal immigrants represented about 4% of the population, and the largest communities were from Cape Verde, Brazil and Angola all ex-colonies.
There are exceptions. The Mediterranean European countries, particularly Spain and Greece, have a major problem with what can be called 'boat people' thought this is a term used more commonly in the Far East. The Greek islands near the Turkish coast have to deal with thousands of illegal immigrants who sink their boat when they reach Greek waters. All these countries ask for and sometimes get help from the European Union in border controls though assistance to Spain has not been so forthcoming after their 2005 amnesty granting legitimacy to some 700,000 undocumented foreigners. Oddly enough, Spain's economy has created more than half of all the new jobs in the EU over those five years around that time. Some other countries, mainly outside Europe, for example Brazil in 1998 and 2009 and Tanzania in 2010, have granted amnesties to try and get some control over illegal immigration. In 2006, 1.27 million immigrants were granted legal residence in the USA.
Not all countries are immigrant shy. Many other countries allow for investment, business and skill shortage immigration with quite reasonable demands. The Constitution of Argentina makes it virtually impossible to be an illegal immigrant and countries like Brazil continue to attract mainly USA citizens of all heritages and ages from the first world - despite language issues. New Zealand - relatively liberal - Canada and Australia all encourage some form immigration and much of that is not coming from the traditionally 'European' lands. Most of New Zealand's and Canada's immigrants are Asian. In the USA, since 1998, China, India and the Philippines have been in the top four originations every year. Despite tighter immigration security after 9/11, nearly 8 million immigrants went to the United States from 2000 to 2005, almost half estimated to have entered illegally. Notwithstanding, the USA still accepts more legal immigrants as residents than all other countries in the world combined.
Taking out mass refugee numbers i.e. the ones that end up in camps, there is a positive inflow of immigrants into the developed world from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Most developed country immigration is to other developed nations such as Brits to the USA or Australia but still a sizeable number move to developing nations.
With all this to and froing, the potential for inter-racial, mixed heritage couplings increases. Indeed in many countries where positive immigration is being experienced the numbers of mixed heritage marriages and children are increasing. Whilst many of the first generation immigrants may bring an existing family, it is the second and third generations that contribute to this growing statistic and contribute to the multiculturalism that comes out of long term migration.