When a State Department employee is on a count down to retirement things seem to slow down. The Foreign Service is a young man’s game . Before I retired I was able to wander over to the big conference rooms on the first floor of Main State and slip into some interesting public meetings. One was truly memorable, and I’ll tell you about it. Here is what I learned.
Trafficking is about incremental migration
That’s it. That’s all you and your Congressman need to know to get a better grip on the issue of trafficking, straight from the big conference room at Main State, Harry S Truman Building.
Maybe I should explain what incremental migration means. What do you think? Here goes. People who are under migratory pressures – wars, famine, natural disasters, or just a desperate desire to improve their lives – do not all aspire to go to America. That’s important. America, for most people, is hard to get to. We make it that way.
A better life, yes, but accessible too.
Migrants want an incremental improvement that is accessible. That’s two things: an improvement and accessible. People take small steps that are possible. For example the struggling Laotian farmer does not want or expect to ever go to America. So relax all you fearful Americans! Laos is next to Thailand. Thailand has an official unemployment rate of less than one percent (honest) and several industries in Thailand are more or less desperate for additional labor.
Laotian people strive to get to Thailand because it is not so hard to do and jobs wait for them there. These hypothetical Laotians may be legal or they may be illegal, but getting to Thailand and working, even at what you or I might consider to be a truly crappy job, is an improvement. An incremental improvement! And that is what trafficking and illegal migration is really about.
Yes, there are many traffickers, organized gangs sometimes, ready to take advantage of this market. They serve a need and the farmer may be happy for the help, but that’s another story. If you look around on this blog you might find that story too.
America, not so accessible – –
Among first world countries America gets the cream of the migratory crop. America is still protected to some extent by oceans. Incremental migration patterns protect America too. For that reason, America does not feel the same pressures and problems faced by other countries. This is one of many reasons America is an inappropriate world policeman to get involved with the complex issues of trafficking and global migration. Our famous “nation of immigrants” isn’t so friendly any more.
I live in Bangkok Thailand and my English language newspaper always has stories about migration issues. Common fodder in my newspaper include things like registration of illegal aliens, conflicts in refugee camps, and police or village leaders caught helping neighbors cross adjacent borders, and more.
America, especially most Americans, have very little experience with those issues in their own backyard. That is why experts came into the Department of State to explain to DoS, and by chance to me.