Economic pressures are the primary reason for international migration. Citizens of developing countries leave their nations in order to find decent wages and work in foreign countries. The United Nations estimates that slightly over half a billion employed people survive on less than a dollar a day; most of these workers are trapped in the cycle of poverty. Others are unemployed and willing to do anything to get a reasonable job. Consequently, many of these individuals will leave their countries for the promise of better pay in foreign nations.
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Their families expect them to send remittances that boost their wellbeing. A case in point is the issue of US migrant workers from Latin America. Almost 10% of the GDP in the Latin American region comes from US immigrant workers. Sometimes immigrants subject themselves to great risk when they move to developed nations, but this risk is often worth it. A Haitian worker can earn his annual salary in one week if he relocated to the US, even if he is unskilled and undocumented.
Receiving countries also experience economic pressure to host immigrants. Many developed nations have aging populations that cannot be adequately replaced after retirement. Consequently, a gap is created in the workforce that can only be replaced by external workers. Some countries depend on immigrant workers to meet their labor needs. Furthermore, certain low-skill jobs may have very few prospects in economically prosperous nations. Immigrants are willing to do them, and will be content with low pay for their service. As a result, economic gaps in rich nations necessitate replacement workers from the international community.
The second most important factor is cultural perceptions people in developing countries have about immigrations and First world immigrant receiving countries. If developed nations have a negative cultural perception about a certain group, they could affect political decisions and hence immigration policies.
A case in point was the case of South African citizens who protested and attacked foreign nationals from other African nations. The overall perception was that these immigrants were coming to use their resources. Immigrants from other parts of the world were not targeted regardless of the existence of freeloaders amongst them too. The xenophobic attacks in South Africa illustrate how cultural perceptions have an important role to play in determination of migration patterns.
Cultural perceptions about a certain group often cause politicians to use them as scapegoats for a country’s own problems. For instance, they may claim that their country is being attacked or under threat from a large group of immigrants. These sentiments fuel stereotypical perceptions about that particular group and pressure legislators to make laws that disfavor members of the group.
In the mid 1960s, many Indian immigrants entered the United Kingdom and set up small shops and businesses there. Their entry sparked off a lot of outrage from locals who felt that their culture was too alien from theirs. They despised their business practices and claimed that the UK were going back to their past. A lot of those perceptions prevented more Indian immigrants from entering the country as they feared for their safety or their chances of success.
Conversely developing nations perceive first world countries as accommodating and full of great promise. Many people think that living in the US is easy because it is multicultural and open to change. Such perceptions have cause immigrants to target the country and many others like it.