Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

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In 2014 there has been a pick in the number of children trying to cross the US-Mexico border. This has provoked heated debates on the relevance on a human rights framework when looking at migrations from South to North America.
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Child Migrants


Certainly it is a bad situation when people think it is a good idea to send unaccompanied children away for a better life, trusting their survival to known criminals at great expense. Even the recent peak numbers should not prove a problem for the USA if it was known that arrivals would be steady and not increase. The issue of course is that if all these children are found to be legal refugees, the migration would become far greater. The USA would have significant trouble accepting 10% of the population of Central America, not to mention the issue of the home country losing such a large segment of their most ambitious future adults.

Are the children legitimate political refugees or just economic migrants? Certainly in part at least the latter or they could stop at a different country closer to home. How much fear of violence should it take to become a protected refugee? Suppose that a group of black Americans applied for refugee status in Sweden, producing valid statistics that in the USA blacks are more likely than whites to be arrested or mistreated by police and more likely to be victims of gangs or other criminals. Would Sweden give them asylum? The answer to this question might help with an answer about Latin American migrants.

Finally, what should the UN do about countries whose citizens can justifiably claim refugee status elsewhere due to mistreatment? Should other countries just be required to accept them until there are none left in the home country? Is it legitimate to demand changes in policies or even changes in governments? And what if the country says no? During the early 20th Century the US government sponsored several regime changes in Latin America and the results are not worth copying.

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