Research shows that immigration rates are increasing. More people leave their countries and go to wealthier ones in hopes of leading a better life. However, immigration also brings fear and very often people see it the wrong way. A lot of them overestimate the immigration of poorly educated migrants and low-skilled workers. On the other hand, the education of immigrants, their finances and dependence on welfare is often underestimated. Many residents of well-developed countries think that immigrants get as much help from the government as they do, which isn’t always true. We know for sure that immigrants add a lot of money to the budget of the countries they live in because there are a lot of skilled workers among them.
What are the differences between specific groups of immigrants?
There are specific characteristics that define asylum seekers, refugees, IDPs, migrants and expats:
- an asylum seeker is looking for protection from persecution in another country,
- a refugee has already received such protection. Refugees are entitled to international protection and everyone has a right to seek asylum in a new country,
- internally displaced people (IDPs) run from persecution in their own country without crossing international borders usually because they cannot or don’t want to do it,
- it’s harder to define migrants, but the most popular definition is that they are people looking for a better life in another country or that they are leaving their country or state either voluntarily or involuntarily, regardless of the causes or the length of the migration,
- the definition of expat is wider as well. It’s someone living outside of their country, which is usually a well-developed one.
The number of immigrants
In 2017, about 258 million people were living outside their country. Among them were 25.9 million refugees and asylum seekers. There are more unregistered refugees and in total, about 66 million people were forced to leave their countries, 40.3 million of which were IDPs. It’s hard to estimate the number of expats because it depends on the definition. There are about 9 million Americans and 5 million Britons living abroad. An example of the rise in immigration are Mexicans. Over the years, their immigration rate has risen from 4.4 to 13 million. Chinese immigration has increased from 4.2 to 10 million. Around 17 million Indians live outside India. At least 10 million migrants in the world have no citizenship.
A big number of immigrants from poor countries aren’t able to get to Western Europe or the USA and instead go to the closest developing country. Global warming has also influenced immigration. People from rural areas migrate to urban ones, alongside other countries.
The most popular destinations
Some countries are more popular among immigrants than others due to differences in wealth, opportunities, conditions of living, and climate. The USA, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the UK were the most popular destinations for migrants in 2015. There are 46 million people from foreign countries in the USA and 12 million in Germany. In 2016, 85.000 refugees arrived in the USA. The countries of origin are India, Mexico, Russia, China, and Bangladesh. Most Asians and Africans move within their continents. Many countries require a visa, although many migrants fail to acquire it.
Poorer countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Uganda host some of the highest numbers of refugees nowadays. There are 3.5 million refugees in Turkey and about 1.4 million in Uganda and Pakistan, according to UNHCR.
57% of refugees are from Syria, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. Colombia hosts 7.6 million IDPs. It’s hard to count all the refugees in the world because many of them are unregistered. An example is Palestinian refugees who are often excluded from official figures because they don’t fit in the specific mandate of UN refugees. Their number depends on the source but estimated figures are between 5.3 million and 6.5 million.
In general, the number of immigrants is rapidly increasing. Most people leave their home country to seek an easier life, find a better job or live in improved conditions. Immigration isn’t always a choice and isn’t always seen positively but different circumstances very often force people to flee from their home to find their place somewhere else.