Great Books Series – MIGRATION

Books are good –  –

I’ve been lazy.  There has been to much time between posts on this blog.  But there is good reason.  I am studying this subject in ways I don’t recall even when I was in grad school so many years ago.  And I want to share what I am learning with another batch of posts.  I gotta tell you about this book – – its great – – There seems to be a lot of people who have fallen for a simplistic understanding on trafficking, the violent scary version portrayed in movies and on TV.  If that weren’t true I suggest there would be no anti-trafficking industry that attacks civil rights of sex workers around the world while claiming to rescuing them.  A few good books, instead of movies, might straighten that out a little.

You simply cannot claim to understand trafficking of people without learning about migration and population.  A very good start is with this book  International Migration, A very short introduction, Khalid Koser, 2007, Oxford University Press.  This is the real deal. (On Amazon $10.29 new and only $3.12 used.  In your hand, invaluable.)  )


This is not a collection of sad anecdotal stories designed to tug at your heart strings and your wallet.  This is not a  TIP report whining about other countries not finding the huge numbers of trafficking victims America seems to need to justify their international mission.

This book is a solid, yet modest size, text book about migration.  I very strongly recommend it.

Dozens of times I have said that trafficking is a migration and population issue.  I say trafficking is a symptom of migration issues.  Having read this book, and others, I agree with that statement with more confidence than ever before.  This is where you too can turn to understand the role migration plays in trafficking.

How ’bout some quotes?  

From a section titled “Explaining migration”

” Only about 3 percent of the world’s population is an international migrant.  Given growing inequalities, widening awareness of opportunities for a better life elsewhere, and increasing access to transportation, a legitimate question to ask is why do so few people migrate?  

From a section titled “Why migration matters”

“Migrants are often the most entrepreneurial and dynamic members of society; historically migration has underpinned economic growth and nation-building and enriching cultures.”  

From a section titled “Dimensions and dynamics of international migration”

“The United Nations (UN) defines as an international migrant a person who stays outside their usual country of residence for at least one year.  

“The number of international migrants has more than doubled in just 25 years, and about 25 million were added in only the first five years of the 21st century.”  

“Three trends:  First, the proportion of women among migrants has increased rapidly.  Very nearly half of  the world’s migrants were women in 2005.”  

“An increasing number of people migrate several times during their lives.”  

 But enough quotes.  Here’s the sermon – –   

One problem Americans have with this issue of trafficking is that Americans are famous for lacking knowledge of the rest of the world.   Many Americans think they are very special and even blessed by God.  That often limits the range of their knowledge too.  This is often called America’s myth of exceptionalism.  On the lips of people around the world this can sound insulting.  Most of the world thinks America has a lot of damned nerve telling countries that they have to follow orders (TIP program) under threat.

There is no question that trafficking laws are used as conservative America’s way to attack prostitution.  But America is the only country among its peers that takes such serious issue about prostitution.

Those same trafficking laws are no different then fences and visas to keep poor people in their place.  The issue of trafficking, particularly labor trafficking, is solved by opening borders, not shutting them, so idled, hungry people in one location can match up with available jobs in another location.

American foreign policy is totally confused by the difference between trafficking of people and smuggling of people.

Our State Department sees brutal, forced slavery and prostitution – just like in the movies – everywhere.  They don’t seem to understand why there are so few victims whom they can take credit for helping.  Of course the answer is that the vast majority of migrants using irregular means to find their way to a better job, including prostitution, are smuggled, not trafficked.

When you take time to consider this with some well chosen  reading  you quickly see, as I did, that the issue is not trafficking of people at all.  It is smuggling of people.   People break the law, but it is their decision.  The trip may be expensive, but doing something illegal is often expense.  People may owe a big debt, but they would not agree that it makes them a slave.  At its heart it is about opportunity to go someplace better, even at great risk.  What amazing stories there will be about these noble journeys, stories which will be told by authors of the future.   America is NOT going to be the hero in those stories.

When you take this into consideration you too will agree that this entire issue of trafficking of all kinds, while real, has been blown way way way out of its proper proportion to its reality just like so many other social panics we face in America.

The next book for your new knowledge – – 

Sorry, have to run.  I have to finish reading the amazing Hit and Run, by the Empower Foundation  I am learning  about their real life experiences with trafficking raids in Thailand.  I will give a full report to you soon.




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