Saturday, June 23, 2007

Migrants' Creed

The New York Times kicked off a series today on global migration. The initial article is rich with points of departure, touching on many of the themes I explore in this blog. What I want to stress are the benefits of relocation:

“This is life and death,” said Emmanuel Kofi Cathline, a local peddler who migrated from Ghana 17 years ago and once made money here helping migrants book the illegal journeys. Though crackdowns have chased him from the business, he remains loyal to what might be called the global migrants’ creed. “If a place is no good, change it,” he said. “Go to another place!”

I'm not suggesting that leaving a region is a panacea for the shrinking cities around the world. The NYT article discusses the ups and downs of straddling two places for purposes of economic gain. However, we should have no doubt about how mobility promotes individual opportunity. The ambivalence is about how places and communities stand to gain from pro-migration policies.

The lack of liberty to choose one's location helps to inform Nativism and xenophobia. I suspect that more than a few Pittsburghers view the Burgh Diaspora as "ingrote" (see the NYT article for definition of term). I'm not arguing for the eradication of a local advantage, but I do think a few points should be awarded to those migrants who can demonstrate a Pittsburgh legacy.

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