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How to fight poverty

An update from Casey, a senior from McKinney majoring in CCPA and earning her EC-4 Teaching Certificate who has a summer internship in London with AFFORD (African Foundation For Development).

I spent most of my day at work researching for the case statement on my organization, AFFORD. I am not even halfway through the day, and I already feel compelled to share what I have learned through my research. First and foremost, immigration delivers massive economic gains, which could be used for poverty reduction!

Even though I am researching African issues, I see a direct connection to the immigration debate at home in America. I have always stood firm in my belief that immigrants are not problems – they are people trying to improve their lives and must be treated accordingly with respect and given rights – but today doubly stand strong, in my opinion.

How someone can declare a person illegal and send them to jail for trying to feed their starving family, boggles my mind and continues to be seen in my eyes as a direct breach of universal human rights. Who has the right to say that because I was born in an industrialized country I have the right to feed my family and receive education, but everyone else in the world who might have been born into lesser circumstances are just unfortunate – that is too bad for them! Excuse me, but that is just ridiculous! If people don’t see the absurdity in that logic, then take a look at the research I found today.

Let workers work
A slight relaxation of restrictions on the movement of workers – increasing the proportion of migrants in the workforce of developed countries to 3 percent – would deliver global gains of perhaps $150 billion per year. To me this only makes sense, especially to Americans considering the simple fact that if there are global gains than the rich will always get richer and the poor will just get a little less poor. So for those who are selfish about resources, then they should still support immigration because they do gain – A LOT – and at least the poor are gaining some instead of moving backwards.

Worldwide, 175 million people, or just under 3% of the total population, live outside their country of birth. Thus, all the Americans who say the immigrants are going to take over our country and use up our resources are completely out of line. If you look at the facts it proves that is impossible!

Sending money home
So, how does immigration reduce poverty? The current volume of remittances, that is money sent home by immigrants to their country of origin, is estimated to be $93 billion per year, and with the addition of unrecorded remittances the total amounts to perhaps $300 billion. This compares to global aid by governments and NGOs of $68.5 billion per year. These figures alone are the reason my organization, AFFORD, is into African development and not aid. It is a HUGE opportunity to reduce poverty. If you can find a way to maximize remittances and make sure they are getting to the people who need them, then $300 billion a year could greatly reduce poverty.

Greater awareness on the part of governments and development agencies is necessary. If the potential of remittances is to be maximized, then more research needs to be done to understand remittances and their use in order to increase the flow of remittances and to make them work better for poverty reduction (Which is what my organization does).

Everybody wins
It’s plain and simple, immigration is a win-win situation. Immigrants have the chance to employ their energy and enterprise in pursuit of a better life, and host societies have the opportunity to benefit from an influx of skills. Home societies can benefit from resources remitted by people who have moved away and from the return of migrants, armed with new skills and ideas.

I am completely sold in this strategy to fighting world poverty. Yes, it might make life in America a little different, but hey survival is about diversifying so we can’t have all our eggs grouped together looking the same and thinking the same in one basket. There is no quick fix to poverty reduction, but it is obvious that we cannot turn our backs on immigration as at least part of the solution.

– Casey

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