¨Those immigrants, we give them everything. When they have a baby, they receive 2500€ and a cochecito (baby carriage). And when those babies grow up, they get all the help in the world. Those immigrant kids get into good schools instead of good Spanish kids who´ve been here and belong here.¨ (A man in Barcelona)
Americans have long been partial to isolationism. Far too often, we think we are the only country facing certain issues, and therefore we look no further than our own borders for the answers to issues the entire world is facing. Immigration is not an issue limited to the Rio Grande Valley where the government is so desirous of erecting a border wall, nor is it specific to our fruit fields, urban restaurants, construction sites, or factory jobs. By definition, immigration is a global issue, a fact which makes a border-wall solution to immigration bitterly laughable.
Nearly half of extralegal immigrants in the United States came here legally on visas and work permits. One can look at this and campaign for militaristic campaigns to treat all students and workers on visas as if they were on an extended parole, but that would be missing the point. The fact is that this makes absolute sense. Immigration is no longer limited to the Vikings of 500 years ago, nor is one country outsending all the rest (though government officials would have us think our southern neighbor is invading us with good workers, family-oriented individuals, and bilingual neighborhoods). Students and workers from all over the world come to the United States for a better opportunity, but they do not count on the lack of opportunities for earned citizenship and naturalization. As a result, hundreds of thousands overstay their visas, holding out hope that one day their opportunity to pursue happiness will be legitimized by the government that invited them here in the first place.
Immigration is a global issue, and one which needs global solutions. If a paranational organization were set up to monitor immigration laws in sending and receiving countries, like the ones which exist for shared water rights and common resources, then perhaps a freer migration pattern could result, one which focused more on the task of assimilation and integration rather than rigid quotas and discrimination. Embedded in immigration is one answer to the complex problem posed by the disastrous overkill combats of the last century. Many people wonder if there can be nonviolent solutions for war and conflict, and immigration and emigration, if controlled by an international entity, could sap such dictators and warlords of their necessary resource – “expendable” souls. Few people praise death and desire war, but out of a sense of duty and/or fear, the poor have always been expected to shoulder the immense burden of war campaigns. What if Hitler announced his plans to wage all-out war throughout Europe, and half his working class emigrated to Spain in a matter of weeks? What would happen if countries were held accountable to their constituents not by a vote of paper but by a vote of presence?
We are entering a new age of globalization, and immigration is surely one of the most exciting aspects of modernity. Technology has shrunk distances, media has brought divergent cultures together, and ideas are being interchanged at the speed of cyberspace. Immigration might be the 21st-century answer to empires, dictators, and overpopulation. Giving people a choice of living conditions could reinforce good policy and punish bad governance.
According to an immigration advocate here, Barcelona is one of the biggest receivers of immigrants in Europe. Ecuador happens to be the largest sending country, which makes sense based on the linguistic similarities and shared heritage. However, the number 2 sending country is slightly surprising. Italy, another nation in the European Union, would hardly seem like a country facing a mass exodus. However, Italy´s current government is so awful that many Italians are more than willing to immigrate to neighboring Spain, even though it means learning Castellano and Catalan as well as leaving behind their heritage. A government such as Italy´s cannot continue to make bad decisions, or it soon will be like the ruler alone on his own planet in The Little Prince, with absolute power over no one but himself.