The website for critical discussion about migration in Central and Eastern Europe.
24. 5. 04
Dusan Drbohlav
Zdroj: migrationonline.cz

International migration of people – movement and residency (lecture)

Dušan Drbohlav opened his lecture entitled “International migration of people – movement and residency” by enumerating the total number of the world’s migrants and stating that migration has become a global problem. Dušan Drbohlav then commented on the characteristic causes and effects of migratory movements, current trends in migration and also the willingness of nations to underline the positive aspects of migration while attenuating the negative ones. At the end of the lecture, which was organized by the Multicultural Center Prague in cooperation with the Pedagogical Department of the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University, Dušan Drbohlav focused on the more problematic aspects of Czech migration and asylum policies.

According to the UN, there are approximately 175 million migrants in the world (the UN considers migrants to be persons living outside of their home country for more than one year).The distribution of these migrants is highly uneven and subjected to changes over time. About 60 percent of the migrants reside in the developed world while the remaining 40 percent live in the developing world.
The decision-making of migrants as well as their behavior represent an extremely complex process which is subject to a number of disparate and independent but usually mutually conditioned factors. These factors are often linked to three environments: original place of migration, target place of migration and the transit countries through which migrants travel. Apart from structural factors tied to the migrants themselves (e.g. gender, age, education, health, etc.), there are other factors to be considered, such as geographic location, short-term and mid-term social and economic situation, migration policies, migration history of the given countries (including resident diasporas), degree of tolerance or the degree of xenophobia of the majority population, but also chance and coincidence of historical circumstances. Migrants are rarely “masters of their situation” as their inner motives and behavior are to a large degree formed by external forces that frame the final picture of migration.

The origins of economic and labor migration, which is often cyclical, lie in the social, economic, political and psychological transformations that go hand in hand with the process of market constitution and overall development. International migration is not the result of an inadequate economic development, but of development itself. The motives for migration on the part of people extracted from their normal environment are conditioned by multiple factors. It is more common today that in the past that people do not want to remain permanently in a foreign country and secure the local high level of salaries, but prefer to remain abroad for a short period of time and then improve one’s social and economic standing in the mother country. Regardless of the origin of migration, once it is running, it has a ‘self-preserving tendency,’ propelling itself through two mutually interconnected processes: the first process functions on the level of individuals, the other functions through social networks. Once a person migrates and goes back to his home country, he or she is not the same person anymore. The result of the new experience is a new “human capital,” which helps to reduce the cost and dangers of future migratory movement while increasing potential benefits. The more a person migrates, the more likely he or she is to migrate in the future. The longer a person stays in a foreign country, the more he or she gains from his residency there, accumulating his or her own “human capital.”
Every instance of migration also creates “social capital” related to the persons with whom the migrant is in close contact. Once a person experiences migration, the cost and dangers of international migration for relatives, friends and associates diminish. Some of “dependents” subsequently migrate themselves, which again extends the network of people connected to the given instance of migration and boosts “social capital.”

Dušan Drbohlav also provides the results of a study of migration movements in Central and Eastern Europe. According to the study, migration in the region tends to be economic or aimed at reunifying families. Labor migration is typical for the region, even at the price of “human devaluation”, i.e. underselling one’s skills. Another shared aspect of migration across Central and Eastern Europe is its concentration in cities and border regions. Insufficient and biased understanding of migration issues on the part of the population (both positive and negative) gives rise to xenophobia. Adaptation of immigrants is not very well supported in the region through the institutional system, and the political rights of immigrants are also very limited. Cooperation between the individual systems is considered inadequate. It is possible to notice a shift from fairly liberal policies toward restrictive policies in connection with the ongoing harmonization of the region’s legal framework with that of the European Union. (This, however, cannot be taken too literally. The Czech Republic still has a liberal approach toward granting trade licenses to foreigners, which in the end supports quasi-legal migration). Last but not least, the study notices the joint and unsuccessful fight against illegal migration.
24. 5. 04
Zdroj: migrationonline.cz

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