A warning cry has begun that COVID will mean the end of immigration. On the surface, the numbers are stark: In July 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued 4,412 immigrant visas compared with 39,568 in July 2019, but the reality on the ground is different. It is not simply the ballooning migrant camps waiting on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border or the crush of inflatable dinghies crossing the English Channel, bearing African and Middle Easterners from France to Great Britain. It is that too many on both sides, the left and the right, have been lying about immigration: starting with the name.
Over the last decade, immigration has morphed into something else, now called by the dangerously deceptive term “migration,” which lumps together all routes of entry, lawful and unlawful. Thus far, the U.S. and Europe have avoided a real debate on what impact this new movement of human beings will have on the future of these countries and indeed our civilizations. We debate immigration and fences and walls when we should be debating migration.
It is a debate that we cannot avoid for much longer.
The first part of our “migration” problem is legal: Western Europe and the U.S. are still largely governed by a 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was expanded in 1967 to cover anyone living in what can be considered a “dangerous” place. That definition allows potentially hundreds of millions of people worldwide to qualify as refugees. The U.N, High Commission on Refugees estimates that there were 26 million likely candidates for resettlement at the end of 2019. All that is needed is to arrive in a hospitable country and claim asylum.
For some, asylum is a legitimate claim, but for others, it is a scam. In 2012—years before the rise of Donald Trump—the FBI rounded up 30 immigration lawyers, paralegals, and interpreters who were part of a money-making scheme to secure asylum for thousands of Chinese migrants to the U.S. In Western Europe, the overall asylum request numbers are even higher. Between 2009 and 2018, Germany had more than 2,169,000 asylum seekers, followed by France at 729,880, Italy at 571,835, Sweden at 504,835, and Great Britain, which is an island, at 327,490. There are many documented cases of “asylum” migrants paying smugglers to convey them to their destination. CNN reported that in 2016 the going rate for someone from Kenya to be resettled in the U.S. as a refugee was between $10,000 and $20,000.
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