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South Africa Sees Deadly Immigration Riots

As the migrant ship tragedy unfolds off the coast of North Africa, immigrants have also been dying at the southern end of the continent. The Wall Street Journal reports that there has been a month of xenophobic attacks in South Africa:

At least five people have been killed this month and thousands of others have been forced to flee their shops and homes, as groups of native South Africans turn their anger over unemployment and poverty against immigrants from Zimbabwe, Somalia and other nations on the continent. As many as six million foreigners live legally and illegally in South Africa, the South African Institute of Race Relations said.

It is not a coincidence that the two ends of the continent—anchored by semi-first-world South Africa on one end and a coast facing Europe on the other—are having trouble with immigration; it reflects an ongoing, continent-spanning problem. In fact, the countries of origin were often the same for the refugees drowned near Libya and those threatened in South Africa:

Many of the 700 people believed to have drowned off the coast of Libya on Sunday were likely fleeing Eritrea and Somalia, two Horn of Africa nations beset by turmoil, according to information gathered by European Union authorities. Laborers and merchants who have come under attack in South Africa this month hail from those countries, too, as well as Malawi and Zimbabwe, southern African nations caught in a morass of slow growth and low investment.

It’s often tempting, living in the West, to think of immigration as a domestic issue, viewed solely in the American or European context. But in fact, we are dealing with a global crisis. With standards of living so high in some areas, and hardship so acute in others, the incentives are heavily weighted in favor of immigration, even at high risk. Not only Europe and America, but also nations like Mexico, Brazil, and even Russia also face their own illegal immigration problems.

The problems this global scope creates are thorny, and much more intractable than many will acknowledge. On the one hand, the humanitarian tragedies cry out for action. On the other, absorbing large numbers of immigrants and refugees is difficult even for wealthy countries when their economies are stagnant, not to mention politically fraught (as Europe has been discovering). Furthermore, many otherwise advanced societies are not well-equipped to assimilate large immigrant populations into their cultures. The violence in South Africa shows that—as do the ongoing assimilation challenges in Europe.

Because of the underlying, structural factors, the global immigration crisis is unlikely to disappear of its own accord anytime soon. Policymakers seeking to get a handle on it might start, though, by considering the truly worldwide scale of the problem.

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  • Andrew Allison

    How about a post on what made the US melting pot so successful, and why it may be failing elsewhere (and perhaps even at home).

    • fastrackn1

      I think part of the success is because we have been an immigrant country from the start, except for the few Native Americans. Because of that perhaps we have been more tolerant of immigrants.
      But now that illegal immigration has been getting out of control, especially from south of the border, maybe that is causing the friction.
      It would be nice to see an article from TAI about it.

    • f1b0nacc1

      There is a wonderful saying: “You can have multiculturalism, democracy, and immigration…..pick any two”
      That is what is happening here. When we demanded that our immigrants assimilate, our model worked….when we embraced the poisonous nonsense of multiculturalism, it broke down just as it doesn’t work in other countries which attempt to square this circle.

      • Andrew Allison

        I more-or-less agree with you (I have the feeling that multiculturalism has been perverted for political ends), but was hoping for insight into how assimilation was demanded in the US.

        • f1b0nacc1

          The fast (and unpleasant) version is that assimilation began from Nativism. If you weren’t an American, you were an alien, and that was a VERY bad thing. The notion that Americans have welcomed immigrants with open arms is a charming myth, but one which even a quick perusal of our history will give lie to. As more immigrants showed up (and their usefulness for fueling our burgeoning industries and populating our open spaces), the Nativists were outnumbered and outgunned by the immigrants themselves and their allies in the business world. Things softened into a ‘join the club, get respectability’, which really meant that immigrants who would assimilate would be tolerated, if not always welcomed. When the huge waves late in the 19th century showed up, they needed very little convincing, as they openly embraced the American model. It wasn’t until the national brain damage of the 1960s that this mutually beneficial balance was undermined.
          Does that help?

          • Andrew Allison

            Other than the use of the word ALIEN (I was one until I realized that who got elected here important to me ;<)] ), yes, thank you.

          • f1b0nacc1

            No offense meant at all my friend….I sometimes tend to be a bit more pedantic than is entirely appropriate.

          • Andrew Allison

            None taken. Just teasing.

        • Corlyss

          I don’t remember multiculti being even called that prior to the fall of the Wall and the Soviet Union.
          I can think of a few policies that seemed to take from those two events the ideas 1) that there would be no more wars; 2) that the idea of a nation having enemies was so early 20th Century and would never again happen; 3) that immigration was the best thing that could happen to a nation and the more the better; 4) that natural resistance to massive immigration was xenophobia and bigotry dressed up as “national interest” and therefore should be denounced wherever it showed up; 5) that nation-states would disappear within our lifetimes and the world would be “ruled” by morally superior NGOs who, as we all know, have EVERYONE’s best interest at heart; 6) that the only legitimate use for the public fisc was to “take care of” the weaker and socially incompetent.
          Now, I hear so many rhapsodic or desperate references to the superior claim of immigrants on a nation’s resources that it ain’t odd anymore. Yes, it’s a humanitarian disaster that failed states brutalize their populations. But surely we residents of the target nations have some rights too! Protection of the residents is THE #1 responsibility of a nation-state. If a state cannot control its borders, it can hardly be deemed a true nation-state in the classical concept. Yet that is what we are experiencing world wide. The MSM and the elites are panic stricken that their careful construct regarding open-borders and the spread of American or European citizenship to the world is crumbling in the face of “the rest against the west.” They don’t have a practical vocabulary to deal with what we witness before our very eyes and simultaneously they can’t admit the compelling nature of what we voters see. The idea that Italy has to beg other strapped economies in the EU to help them deal with a problem that shouldn’t be their problem is astonishing. The idea that the calculating Doofus can invite the rest of Latin America to send us their kids, with the anticipation that he will get either grudging acceptance of massive state taxpayer burdens or inflammatory rejection of such a “Children’s Crusade” and the resulting “shaming” of conservatives is equally astonishing.

          • Andrew Allison

            I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, namely that minorities are being told (and taught) that their rights that are senior to those of their hosts.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Well, after all this is all about the old suggestion that ‘perhaps the elites would prefer to dismiss the people and replace them with another’. Labour in Britain has tried the same thing, with predictable results.

          • Andrew Allison

            It’s a given that all animals are equal, but governmental animals of any stripe are more equal than others (as the Russians say, we just have to hope for better Tsars). But that’s not the same thing as making some classes of citizens more equal than others, which may be the source of lack of assimulation.

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