Immigration: Doors Open and Close

Desperate people going to any lengths to enter a country where they can work for a pittance are a depressing comment on development. Mexico’s border with America sees the sad and sometimes fatal drama played out many times a day. Yet the wealthy world cannot come to terms with its need for this cheap labour and find policies to provide it in a just and dignified way.

The World Today Updated 12 November 2020 Published 1 November 2006 5 minute READ

Nicola Philips

Professor, Political Economy, University of Manchester

Across the world, immigration policy hinges on the tension between desire to control large-scale immigration and the need to recognise the economic importance of migrant labour. Nowhere has this been resolved in any satisfactory way. In most countries where they settle it is politically charged to the point of paralysis. In the United States over the past couple of years we have seen the opening, and now apparent closing, of an opportunity to replace a thoroughly dysfunctional and ineffective immigration system with an orderly, just and humane approach.

The latest installment of the American immigration debate has been marked by muddled presidential leadership, deep splits in the Republican party and an intransigent stand-off between two versions of policy reform.

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