- Most people on the move today never leave the borders of their countries of birth. Internal migration (both voluntary and the result of displacement) far exceeds international migration.
- There are 200 million people worldwide living outside the countries in which they were born. If all international migrants were concentrated in one country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world. Approximately 120 million have left less developed countries, with half of those ending up in developed countries and half in other underdeveloped countries.
- The UN estimates that 67 million people worldwide have been displaced from their homes by war, conflict, or environmental disasters. Fifty-one million of these people are internally displaced. Sixteen million of these migrants are refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq, Colombia, Somalia, Sudan and the Palestinian territories. Up to 80% of refugees are thought to be women and children.
- The United States is the top immigrant destination, followed by Germany, France, India and Canada. The US is home to 38 million foreign-born residents making up 12% of its population. Once primarily a nation of European immigrants, the US now draws people mainly from Latin America and Asia. The US admits both the most international economic migrants and refugees/asylum seekers of any nation in the world.
- The oil-producing states of the Gulf region such as Saudi Arabia are home to the most immigrants as a percentage of total national population. This is due to the employment of millions of guest workers from Central Asia and the Middle East in the oil industry.
- Immigrants to developed countries send home an estimated $318 billion in remittances, an amount exceeding total foreign aid.
- Two million Iraqis have fled their war-torn nation and currently seek refuge in other countries, primarily Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon; another nearly 2 million Iraqis are displaced within Iraq. Outside of the region, Sweden admits the most Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers.
- Attempts by host nations to restrict legal immigration have not resulted in a decrease in migration, but have resulted in an increase in the percentage of immigrants who are considered illegal or irregular. Most immigrants who are considered “illegal” do not sneak over borders, but rather overstay their legal entry permits for work, education, travel, or sanctuary.
- Thirty percent of the foreign-born population of the US is considered illegal. Proposed legislation in 2007 that would have extended legal status to millions of undocumented foreign residents failed.
- Immigrants in the US pay more in taxes as a group over their lifetimes than they consume in public services. Even illegal immigrants pay sales tax and most also pay some form of income tax.
- The European Union has begun making intra-regional migration easier while fortifying its peripheral borders against immigrants from other regions, particularly those from Muslim countries.
- Europe is increasingly dependent on immigrants to maintain overall population levels and worker to dependent ratios. Japan (which is not considered immigrant-friendly) and South Korea (which is) find themselves in the same demographic bind.
- Immigration restrictions often are in conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognizes individuals’ right to freedom of movement.
- Current battles on the frontlines of the immigration debate include head scarf controversies, riots in Muslim enclaves located in the suburbs of Paris, raids and deportations of illegal Mexican workers in the US, and discrimination against internal migrants in China.
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