Updated: Oct 28, 2021
By: Byssan Samny
The term "migration" is one that we often hear. Politicians, the media, and international organizations all use it. When we think about migration, we envision a massive influx of people crossing the borders of various countries.
For me, migration is more than a flow of people, it is a story, a journey in which we all participate in writing its chapters. From joy to sadness, tears and laughter, love and compassion, we leave our footprints on the sand dunes on our way to a new world.
We have been misinformed about immigration over the years, and, as a result, many people regard immigrants as intruders, enemies, criminals, terrorists, drug traffickers, and gang members, forgetting that they are human beings in need of help. So what is the other side of immigration?
As globalization deepens and starts to shape people's lives. More and more people leave their home countries to get an education, seek new job opportunities, begin a new life and improve their economic status. We are currently living in a period of intense turbulence, widespread wars, political instability, natural disasters, violent conflicts, poverty, and gang violence, which are driving more and more people to flee their countries for their safety.
People are mobilizing to make a difference all over the world. Working with migrants in my home country of Morocco was very meaningful to me, and being able to continue to do so in my new home in America, in Ohio, is really important because change can be made by anyone, in small steps, around the globe. From Africa to the United States, change, kindness, love and compassion can all be accomplished.
Having the opportunity to take a social justice class--Global Inequality and Justice (SOAN 300.8)--at Ohio Wesleyan University has given me a new perspective on our world. This course has given us the tools to better understand the complexities of the world and has guided us towards finding solutions to make it an improvement. In the class, we worked with the Immigrant Workers Project (IWP), which has been a great honor for me.
IWP is a grassroots organization that supports immigrant workers throughout Ohio. Their “approach is based on the teachings of Paulo Freire, educator and prominent thinker of critical pedagogy, and thus all initiatives, programs, and services are collaborative in nature and formed through bottom-up leadership and goal-setting.” Among their many programs, they have human rights lawyers that represent workers facing deportation to life-threatening situations in their originating countries to request asylum in the US. We conducted research to help the migrants' attorneys build their cases and present them to the court. In the US, only 20% of asylum seekers are awarded asylum. The duration of the asylum process can vary between 6 months and several years depending on the nature of the asylum application, whether it is positive or defensive, and on the particular facts of the asylum claim. Hearing about what migrants go through has made me extremely grateful and my biggest takeaway from this experience is that we are all on the same level and everyone deserves a chance.
According to the World Migration Report, the estimated number of international migrants has increased over the past five decades. An estimate of 272 million people living in a country other than their countries of birth. In 2019, it was 119 million more than in 1990 when it was 153 million.
One of the most impacted regions in the world by immigration is Africa. In 2019, over 21 million Africans were living in another African nation, indicating that migration in Africa includes large numbers of migrants moving both within and outside the continent. International migration within Africa has risen dramatically since 2000.
According to the World Migration Report, the number of African migrants living outside of the continent has more than doubled since 1990, with the most significant increase occurring in Europe. As shown in figure 1, the majority of African-born migrants living outside of Africa in 2019 were in Europe (10.6 million), Asia (4.6 million), and Northern America (3.2 million).
I have spent my entire life alongside immigrants from all over the world. To me, the data and statistics translate into a real humanitarian crisis. My home country of Morocco is one of the most common transit countries for immigrants going to Europe. It is true that over the years, more and more people have come to Morocco to take advantage of the opportunities offered. The majority of immigrants come from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. Immigrants are mainly fleeing war, political instability, and poverty. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates almost 100,000 migrants are living in Morocco.
Morocco started accepting more immigrants after the Syrian civil war began in 2014, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Almost 8,000 refugees, mainly from Syria, Yemen, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and other Sub-Saharan African countries, now reside in Morocco.
At a time of weakness and despair, which migrants experience and followed by a very complicated legislative and regulatory arsenal to navigate, pushes more and more people to immigrate to Europe without documentation. According to data obtained by the International Organization for Migration, the total number of clandestine refugees and asylum seekers who arrived in Europe in 2019 was 123,920 (IOM).
The most common route to reach Europe is the Mediterranean Sea. Migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea through the help of smugglers who organize the traffic. They cross the sea in small inflatable boats in groups that exceed the capacity of the boat; they are given fake life jackets and the migrants do not know how to swim most of the time, which helps make this the deadliest migration route in the world. In the last six years, 19,000 cases of migrant deaths have been recorded in the Mediterranean.
Between January and May 2021, 599 migrants, presumably from Sub-Saharan Africa, died in the attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea. According to a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees “UNHCR” report, six people died each day attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2018. And 1.6 percent of asylum-seekers who attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe were listed as dead or missing.
The number of people migrating internationally is predicted to rise in the future. International migration is a complex phenomenon that affects our everyday lives in such an age of information overload. It involves several different economic, social, and security aspects. In essence, global migration's complex dynamics can never be completely assessed, understood, or controlled.