How can the OECD countries cope with this challenge: accepting many asylum seekers claiming to be refugees, or carefully selecting qualifications and insisting on the given channels of immigration? Are quotas the only solution? What about amnesties for illegal migrants?

Waves of asylum seekers, many of whom are actually labour migrants, constantly struggle to reach the shores of more developed countries such as Australia, Southern Europe, the United States and elsewhere. We can see these movements both as human tragedies where help is required, and the resulting pushback as attempts to regulate human capital influx.

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  1. Klaus Segbers 3 years ago

    Looking at asylum seekers from a European point of view, we see ongoing influx from the south, mostly by boat.

    A smaller number of people arrives from the east. The existing first entry rule means that asylum seekers are not allowed to keep traveling beyond their first entry point until their procedure of acceptance is finished.

    This leads to a much higher number of people arriving in Spain, Malta, Italy and Greece compared with, say, Sweden or Finland.

    The uneven distribution of new arrivals is one problem the EU has to sort out. Collective action and free-rider problems lead so far only to postponing solutions.

    Another issue is what signals are used for shaping the number and profile of people trying to come over the Mediterranean. Once the boat people make their way to a piece of land in the EU, they are entitled to claim due process for their asylum claims. During the process, which sometimes can extend over months, or even longer, they are subject to restrictions, of their movement, and also of accepting paid work.

    In many cases, there is a mismatch between incoming people and people required by ageing European societies. Particularly high-skilled and low-skilled immigrants are needed, but the arriving migrants do not necessarily match this need.

    It would be significantly more rational to openly define European (or, if that’s not possible, then national) qualification needs and then accept people based on applications and qualifications. This certainly would lead to brain drain effects, but the same is true for people currently on the move – they are not the poorest and neediest, but those who can afford to pay middlemen for the boat passage, and other expenses.

    What is needed is more rationality on all sides involved.

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4 Comments

  1. John Sweeney 3 years ago

    Europe’s policies sound about 1000 times better than where we are at in Australia right now. With our government hamhandedly closing detention centres and moving asylum seekers offshore to much harsher conditions on Nauru and soon in Cambodia, our leaders are clearly trying to avoid the problem altogether. Every day there are more heartbreaking stories about humans suffering on those islands – these tragic children’s drawings are far too easy to read: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/12/sadness-and-fear-what-the-drawings-by-children-in-detention-showed-us?view=desktop. Surely there must be a way to learn from each other and work on these policy issues globally in a way that is RATIONAL, as Mr Segbers says above.

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  2. AW 3 years ago

    Mr. Segbers makes a very good point here: clearly defined rules would definitely help a lot in tackling the refugees problems. It is not that Europe does not need more people, but it should be aware of which kind of and how many. Such rules would also help to make the issue less emotional: the pendulum is swinging between straight forward conservatism and left hysteria – not the best mixture to handle such complex issues. Clear rules would also legitimize stricter procedures on illegal immigrants – currently their cases are often handled emotionally and politicians are exposed to enormous pressure from the asylum seekers (think of all the hunger strikes in Germany).
    Another point, which Mr. Segbers addresses is even more important: Europe should share the responsibility among the member-states. Germany, Denmark and Britain are lucky to be in the European North but it does not mean, that they can completely withdraw from dealing with the refigees’ issues.

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    1. JB 3 years ago

      Agree with you – Sweden has vowed to accept any Syrian asylum seekers that arrive there. But how are they supposed to do that as long as the rule about having to stay in the first EU country you land in holds?

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  3. Maya Reynolds 3 years ago

    What about climate refugees? Soon they will outnumber political asylum seekers. The government of Kiribati recently bought land in Fiji, hoping it will be able to move its people there when sea level rises render their island inhabitable. The government is also working to train its people in transferable skills which can be used overseas for when the time comes. But who will take them?

    Humans have been migrating since the beginning of time – borders might seem revelant now but that won’t always be the case. There must be other systems we can come up with that serve us, all people, better.

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