I was looking through my news feeds, marking bits for future relevance and this popped up.
Almost 69 million people have fled from war and famine and violence this year alone. Its estimated that 258 million people now do not live in the country of their birth. That’s about 3% of the world’s total population. And that number is growing.
The US these past weeks have been hit by the images of children separated from their parents at the southern border. There have been images of tent cities in Calais burned by authorities. Countries in Europe are struggling with the influx of migrants, and the US is struggling with its own migration issues. Canada is also seeing an uptick in migrants asking for visas or asylum. Whether from Central and South America, or Africa, or the Middle and Near East, or the Pacific Rim, people are moving away from the countries of their birth to seek better for themselves and their families. And the world isn’t welcoming them with open arms.
The xenophobia runs high in many communities. There are concerns about jobs, about the different cultures trying to displace the culture that is already there. There are concerns about language, about dress, about everything that people bring with them when they come to a new place.
The migrants of today are no different from migrants of yesteryear or yestermilleniums. The peoples that came towards Rome and Roman colonies in Europe in the waning years of the Roman Empire brought with them their own religions, their own culture. And Rome didn’t want them either. They were unprepared for such an influx of people. There were skirmishes, battles. There were calls for their outright destruction. In the end, they stayed, and began to make up the new leadership of successors to the Roman Empire. We wouldn’t have Charlemagne without migration.
Small migrations have happened without stopping over the millenia of our human existence. Larger ones happen at intervals where need for resources and safety outweigh any thought of ‘this is home’. We are at one of those intervals. And we need to come to grips with the peoples making their way to a place they can call home.
Walls won’t stop migration. Neither will laws designed to keep people from even trying. Because the need for resources and safety is more important than trying to stay in a place that doesn’t feel like home anymore.