It is often from the victims of a war that stories of immigration spread. Mothers and their children traveling to a new country to begin again. However, immigration is not only due to negative factors. A better state of living in one country may be more ideal for an individual and thus convincing them to migrate. There are other cultural, social, and economic reasons as to why certain individuals or a group of people will decide to migrate. Immigration is a process where an individual or group of people move from one country to another and become permanent residents of the new country (Parry, 2013). People and some fields of study often perceive the concept of immigration as problematic. However, others view immigration as a vehicle of social change since it can provide a cultural, social, and economic benefit to a country. This expository essay will attempt to explain the factors concerning immigration and how it drives social change in other countries.
Factors for Immigration
People who migrate from one country to another have varying reasons. While people commonly hear war as a reason for immigration, other positive and negative factors come into consideration when people are deciding whether to migrate or not. Factors like the safety of a person and their family, better job opportunities, pollution, and reuniting with family members already living in a foreign country are some of the factors to consider.
The economic immigration factors are one of the common reasons for migration. Individuals currently working in low-paying jobs in a third-world country may consider migrating to pursue high-paying jobs in other countries. People may also decide to move from a rural environment into busy urban areas to expose themselves to more opportunities. Most developing countries can only offer low or average salaries to high positions while more developed countries offer double the amount for the same positions.
A sudden economic decline due to various factors can force a large population of a country to consider immigration. This can result in mass migration which can negatively impact the economy of the immigrant's origin country. A rise in the economy of a country is also a reason for immigration. If people observe that a country's economy is continually rising, more people will be convinced to migrate. A continuous rise in a country's economy indicates more job opportunities, higher pay, and a high-quality state of living.
The reasoning behind the social factors of migration is the pursuit of a better quality of living (Root Causes of Migration, 2017). A person's preferred college course may not be available in their country which could lead to them or the whole family migrating. Some niche educational programs are also exclusive to certain countries and migration is the only solution for any foreigners to enroll. Medical services are also a social factor for migration. Some surgeries and treatments are only available in specific facilities due to their experimental nature. This forces people who require these medical services to travel to another country.
The environmental immigration factors can be natural or man-made. Natural disasters like tsunamis and earthquakes can cause severe damage to an area making it inhospitable. Agricultural areas can be threatened by drought and non-stop rain. This leads farmers to migrate to other areas to find better opportunities and provide for their families. Extreme cases of pollution can also be a cause for migration since it provides health risks to the residents in the nearby areas.
Man-made factors can come from the effects of war, high crime rates, and discrimination. It is widely known that the victims of wars often decide to immigrate to foreign lands where they can experience a peaceful life. High crime rates in an area are also a deciding factor for families to abandon their homes and transfer to other safe areas. Racial and religious discrimination are also valid reasons for a person or group of people to immigrate to more open-minded and liberated countries. Some countries even punish people who hold certain beliefs. This makes living in some countries dangerous for certain individuals thus forcing them to immigrate.
Benefits of Immigration
Immigration has negative and positive benefits to the country on the receiving end. Large-scale immigration may result in conflicts between cultures. Language barriers may result in misunderstandings between the natives and the immigrants living within a community. The natives of a country will also need to compete with the immigrants for job opportunities and medical services. Overpopulation can be a result of large-scale immigration if the rate of migration is left unchecked. However, since cultures and people are able to evolve and adapt, immigration becomes a vehicle of social change rather than a burden.
Immigrants who come from countries like Syria and Israel have experienced harsh lives. They grew up in economically unstable countries that only knew war and violence. Some of these immigrants often become leaders in a community or influential icons. These immigrant leaders and icons can drive social change by sharing their stories. Immigrants are able to build up support for their origin country which leads to people being more aware of the situation in war-affected areas.
The countries where immigrants choose to migrate often learn from the ideologies and experiences of the immigrants. Take for example how the Goths and Visigoths converted to Christianity. The Goth leaders accepted the wisdom of the Christians that focused on humility and care for the poor (Richerson & Boyd, 2008). With the world's culture becoming more open-minded and accepting of others, the effects of immigration in igniting social change will be more prevalent.
Multiculturalism is another benefit of immigration. The Functionalist Theory of social change argues that society is an organic whole and it supports the organic unity of society. This theory best describes the process of immigration. Due to the different cultures brought by the immigrants, a country can experience social change and grow richer and wiser. Businesses will be able to have smoother transactions with foreign countries since they will be more knowledgeable about their cultures and way of thinking. Inventors can create products that suit the needs of a multicultural environment which can open up export networks.
There are arguments that state that the continued development in the world will result in a decline in immigration. However, world development will not reduce the rate of migration (de Haas, 2006). It is the same with statements that argue if there is less inequality and war, there would be less migration. Immigration will not cease even world leaders address the human rights issues in Syria and Israel. Immigration is a result of a personal decision in pursuit of a better life. People in developed countries may even choose to migrate to other foreign countries if their personal needs require them to do so.
Immigration affects a country in multiple ways. There are also a lot of factors that convince or force people to migrate. Immigration can drive social change to a culture, allowing a more open-minded and accepting environment. Large-scale immigration can harm the origin country's economic stability. Immigration helps in the development of a country by providing additional workforce, new ideas, and pushes a country to be multicultural. The social changes that immigration brings solidify the fact that it is a necessary process for the development of countries and its culture.
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de Haas, H. (2006). Turning the Tide? Why 'Development Instead of Migration' Policies are Bound to Fail. IMI Working Paper, IMI Working Paper 2 Oxford: International Migration Institute.
Justice For Immigrants. (2017). Root Causes of Migration. https://justiceforimmigrants.org/what-we-are-working-on/immigration/root-causes-of-migration/
Parry, S. (2013). Immigration. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/immigration
Richerson, P. & Boyd, R. (2008). Migration: An Engine for Social Change. Nature 456, 877. https://doi.org/10.1038/456877a