The Challenges of Refugees, Islamophobia, Terrorism, and Immigration

In the wake of the attacks this past November in Paris, and as Germany expects to accept up to 1,000,000 new immigrants by the end of 2015, there’s been a great deal of discussion in the transatlantic community on the future of global migration and how immigration policy may evolve in many countries around the world.

On December 9, Cultural Vistas partnered with the American Council on Germany to discuss “Refugees, Islamophobia, and the Fallacies of Addressing Terror Threats through Immigration Policy” with Kavitha Rajagopalan, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and World Policy Institute, specializing in global migration and the future of citizenship, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Dr. Steven Sokol, President of the American Council on Germany, moderated the discussion.

Kavitha Rajagopalan starts heated discussion on how to adapt global migration policies.

Rajagopalan opened the event by painting the audience a detailed picture of what global migration looks like in our modern age. She described how porous our borders have become and how contemporary population migration is very fluid.

According to Rajagopalan, many Western nations have developed immigration policies in order to address terror threats, which she believes is an inadequate solution for the issue. Most often, national immigration policies are developed to protect the resources and security of nations, not the vulnerable people who need to be safeguarded.

National immigration policies are still quite young, Rajagopalan explained. The oldest policies have been in place for only about 50 years. In many nations around the world, policies are less than a decade old.   There is still time to adjust these policies to meet the current needs of refugees and migrants. We live in a world with increased mobility, where migration from nation to nation is easier, and assisting and protecting migrants is a growing necessity.   A spirited discussion followed on the challenges of adapting migration policies. Throughout the conversation, and as evidenced by her work, Rajagopalan advocated for the protection of all people around the world.

Engaging in discussions on these sensitive issues is what will lead us to effective solutions. Although we might have differing opinions on what immigration policy should look like in the United States and around the world, I believe it’s important for us to recognize what we all share—a vested interest in a peaceful future for all.

Further reading on the refugee crisis, immigration, and terror threats (via ACG):
Migrant Deaths Worldwide – Kavitha Rajagopalan, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Europe’s Crisis: Refugees, Terror and Impotence – Michael Brenner, The Huffington Post
„Es gibt eine deutliche Reduzierung der Zugangszahlen“ – Handelsblatt
Merkel, While Refusing to Halt Migrant Influx, Works to Limit It – Alison Smale, The New York Times
Merkel Forges New Alliance on Refugees – Hans von der Burchard and Jacopo Barigazzi, Politico
Turkey Comes in from the Cold – Ruth Berschen and Siobhán Dowling, Handelsblatt
Syrian Refugee ‘Pays Back’ German Kindness with Food for the Homeless – Mark Molloy, The Telegraph
Refugees Tell a Different Berlin Story – Will Coldwell, The Guardian 
Europe Needs to Take a Holistic Approach to Tackling ISIS – Jane Kinninmont, Chatham House
Europe’s Jihadists: What the Paris Attacks Tell Us about IS Strategy – Der Spiegel
Amid Stollen and Glühwein, Terrorism Fear Haunts Germany’s Christmas Markets – Kate Connolly, The Observer
Germans’ Refugee Response Puts U.S. to Shame – Leonid Bershidsky, Newsday
Bavarians at the Gate – Janosch Delcker, Politico 

Ruth Conkling
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Ruth Conkling

A veteran herself of international exchange programs, Ruth works to bring more American students and professionals abroad.

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One thought on “The Challenges of Refugees, Islamophobia, Terrorism, and Immigration”

  1. Factors that push people into imiagrmting to the United Stated have remained the same, especially when it comes to economic opportunities. My family immigrated to New York over twenty years ago for that reason, and it remains the number one reason why Taiwanese people wish to come to the U.S. Straight out of college or graduate school, a person, at best, will earn an average of 30,000 NT dollars per month, working an average of 10 hours per day. In U.S. currency, that is $1,013 per month. While the standard of living is significantly lower than that of New York, there is little money left for any enjoyment after expenses are paid. As for Mexican immigrants, I do believe that they are coming into the U.S. for economic opportunities as well. I remember watching a documentary where factory workers were complaining about illegal Mexican immigrants that were taking their jobs. There was a scene where officers would come into the homes of the Mexicans and arrest some to be deported. Yet, there was a distinct segment that demonstrated that those arrests were just for show. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the industries loved immigrants because they provided cheap labor and workers that could be exploited due to their illegal status. Today, it is the same situation. Those arrests are meant to quell complaints; the fact is that hundreds of illegal Mexican immigrants are let in each day. Few are returned. Our industries love illegal immigrants, too. They want the cheap exploitable labor to cut costs and increase profits.The current immigration policies proclaim to protect U.S. citizens from losing their jobs to illegal immigrants, protect the country from getting over-crowded, ensure income stays domestic, etc., but that is clearly not how they are being used. I bear no malice toward illegal immigrants. I understand their wish to have a better life and have nothing but sympathy for how our industries are using them. Thus, my problem with illegal immigration is in its ethics. We should not be exploiting illegal immigrants and treating them like they are disposable workers. Overly idealistic as it sounds, policies on immigration should be put more to use, so that immigrants can come in on a legal status and be eligible for protection. It is wrong for us to look the other way just so we can have expendable workers.

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