“Global Migration Receives Rational Analysis from the World Bank: An Opinion”

The issue of immigration is highly polarizing, as seen in the debate surrounding President Biden’s attempts to control the U.S.-Mexico border. After initially responding to the millions of people attempting to cross the border in his first two years in office, Biden is now using existing legal powers to restrict the flow of immigrants. The president has implemented a policy of providing more slots to certain immigrants who avoid irregular routes through Mexico, while denying access to anyone who doesn’t.

Immigrant rights groups feel betrayed by the president, despite his embrace of much of their policy agenda. They accuse Biden of rescinding “cruel” restrictions on asylum seekers imposed by his predecessor, Donald Trump. Meanwhile, 20 red states led by Texas claim that the state is not doing enough to stop immigration and is illegally opening the country to many more “illegal immigrants.” Both sides have filed lawsuits, and a court decision is expected soon.

The World Bank has dedicated the 2023 edition of its annual World Development Report to migration, entitled “Immigrants, Refugees, and Society.” The report aims to encourage dispassionate thinking on the matter. The book argues that the current number of immigrants worldwide, accounting for 2.3% of the world’s population, is the same as it was in 1960. This figure does not necessarily indicate a social and economic crisis, even though migrants face a host of challenges and risks, including persecution, exploitation, and danger.

The report suggests that minimizing the cost of providing shelter and sharing it internationally is the right policy to adopt for countries accepting refugees according to international law. The World Bank report points out that those who migrate often do so for economic opportunity or to flee persecution. The challenge, however, is to minimize the cost of providing shelter. Many of these migrants lack the skills for particularly in-demand jobs or fear of individualized persecution, which would qualify them for refugee status or asylum.

The report highlights the need to address organized crime and reduce migrant distress through political and economic reforms in countries of origin. The report promotes absorbing some of the migrants in their destination countries while repatriating the rest humanely to decrease the chances of loss of border controls. The United States has long attempted to decrease immigration through aid, but adopting a broader guest worker program could allow the U.S. economy to legally absorb immigrants, avoiding the binary choice between permanent legal status and deportation. Although the World Bank report takes no position on President Biden’s policies, its analysis suggests a need for a pragmatic approach to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of immigration to the United States.

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