Migration is an essential of human history

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2019 - 12:00am

Man has been migrating since he existed. That being so, I do not know why and whether it can be stopped. As one Filipino once wrote in a little book he circulated at the height of Filipinos’ migration to European countries “there are one thousand and one ways to elude immigration rules. It includes climbing mountains and crossing rivers.

“Why? Human beings migrate where there are better economic opportunities or to escape  the unhappy politics of their countries.

Filipinos are at the center of the issue of migration. Through the years Filipino migration  began slowly but soon it moved from thousands to millions.  I was in the UK and worked closely with the Filipino community of migrants. Some of them came in legally but a word was coined distinctly Filipino, “tago ng tago.” Like Donald Trump, Margaret Thatcher was elected on a platform of stopping migrant workers. The Filipino community in the 70s were chosen as a target because they had a weak community and a government unwilling to take up their cause.

The campaign went as far as the International Commission of Human Rights when the rule discriminated against women. Men could bring in their wives and families but women could not. My later husband and I were on top of the Filipino campaign to change rule. That was then but today no one is complaining about Filipino migrant workers most of whom are women because they give a much needed service in hospitals as nurses.

Human migration began with the “movement of homo erectus out of Africa across Eurasia about 1.75 million years ago.” It is more visible phenomenon today because migrants take airplanes and boats to migrate.

Here are some figures. “Migration to the Americas took place 20,000 to 15,000 years ago. By 2000 years ago humans had established settlements in most of the Pacific Islands.

The “recent African origin” paradigm suggests that the anatomically modern humans outside of Africa descend from a population of homo sapiens migrating from East Africa roughly 70,000 years ago and spreading along the southern coast of Asia and to Oceania before 50,000 years ago.” (sourced from Wikipedia)

Like Margaret Thatcher, Donald Trump ignore that history thinking that they can stop the migration of peoples.

In an August 2016 campaign speech in Arizona, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump laid out in ten detailed points the immigration policy he intended to pursue if elected.

It was a popular issue among the electorate. It is a simple issue about “why they should be burdened by new entrants to their communities.” That is the reason why Trump has increased and enforced more immigration rules, including the erection of a border wall to stop migrants, this specifically directed at migrants from coming in from Mexico.

Reports say he has not built an inch of the wall. Too many oppose it and it has become a political issue. The ludicrous border wall is unlikely to be built. Trump may have been able to implement some new rules but I doubt these will  lessen the impact of migration to the US or other richer countries.

Filipinos are part of the targeted migrants. The Trump government said Filipinos will not be issued  US work visas until Jan. 18 next year, “due to alleged concerns over human trafficking and overstaying raised by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” It is a legitimate concern but is it really the reason?

In a notice issued over the weekend, the DHS said the Philippines had been dropped from the list of countries eligible for H-2A/H-2B work visas.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippines is ready to work with the US in addressing the issues.

Malacañang is not ruling out an appeal, but said it would rather let the DFA work it out first with the US embassy.

H-2A visas are given to foreign agricultural workers in the US, while H-2B visas are granted to skilled and unskilled workers. The restriction took effect last Jan. 19.

“In FY 2017, DHS estimated that nearly 40 percent of H-2B visa holders from the Philippines overstayed their period of authorized stay,” the DHS said in its notice published in the Federal Register. That is the tago-ng-tago way Filipinos and other nationalities will meet these restrictions. I think that is difficult to overcome.

“Among US diplomatic posts across the globe, the US embassy in Manila issues the greatest number of T-derivative visas (T-2, T-3, T-4, T-5, T-6), which are reserved for certain family members of principal T-1 nonimmigrants (victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons).

The US embassy in Manila issued approximately 40 percent of the total T-derivative visas issued worldwide from 2014 to 2016.

A recent review of certain T-1 status recipients, whose spouses were issued T-2 visas in the same period, showed approximately 60 percent trafficked to the US on H-2B visas.

“DHS and DOS (Department of State) are concerned about the high volume of trafficking victims from the Philippines who were originally issued H-2B visas and the potential that continued H-2B visa issuance may encourage or serve as an avenue for future human trafficking from the Philippines,” the statement said.

“DHS and DOS also believe that these overstay and human trafficking concerns are severe enough to warrant removal from the H-2A visa program as well,” it added.

“The Philippines’ continued inclusion creates the potential for abuse, fraud and other harm to the integrity of the H-2A or H-2B visa programs,” it pointed out.

The DFA reminded Filipinos abroad, particularly those in the US, to follow immigration rules and avoid staying beyond what is allowed by their visas.

“As visa issuances are a country’s prerogative, the DFA notes the concerns that led the DHS to arrive at its decision.

Nonetheless, the Philippines is open to the possibility of working with the United States in addressing these issues, as it has previously done so with similar concerns involving the Filipino community there.”

But the factor of migration being mutually beneficial is well known. Migrant labor is desirable and necessary to sustain economic growth and rise out of the current recession. As it has been demonstrated through the history of migration it is important for the transfer of manpower and skills and provides the needed knowledge and innovation for global growth.

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