By Yeh Ling-Ling | 19 May 2015
Increasing waves of boat people have attempted to reach European shores via the Mediterranean. What is the long-term and most cost-efficient way to help the maximum number of individuals worldwide seeking a better life?
The new asylum action plan presented by Jean-Claude Junker, the President of the European Commission, which requires that members of the European Union grant asylum to migrants, is well-meaning. However, this move will encourage larger waves of migration and result in higher social and racial tensions in a rapidly changing Europe.
British Interior Minister Theresa May was correct to argue that sending back the migrants would deter future illegal immigration and thus help reduce potential deaths on the sea. This is the policy adopted by many countries such as Israel, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia, but it leaves illegal migrants with little hope.
Before political and human rights leaders around the world adopt action plans to cope with migration, they must be reminded of the following hard facts:
1. Many natives in developed nations, such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and the United States, are experiencing unemployment and poverty due to many factors. Presently, there are hundreds of billionaires in developing nations, including 55 in Africa reportedly. Why shouldn’t these billionaires work with other leaders to curb their population growth and improve life for their own citizens, like China, Taiwan and Singapore have done?
Indeed, China symbolized poverty just 3 decades ago. Although it still has many problems, the Chinese now hold the largest foreign currency reserves in the world and are buying up assets in all continents. Singapore, a tiny poor city deprived of resources in the 1950’s, has become a clean and economically successful country with very low crime rates. It is to be noted that both China and Singapore have way below replacement-level fertility.
2. There are hundreds of millions of people in developing nations who believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Further, some 70 million individuals are estimated to be added to the world population each year. The European Union, the United States and other large immigrant receiving countries are already overwhelmed with problems. They cannot keep absorbing big waves of impoverished migrants without neglecting their own poor and unemployed, or undergoing substantial transformations resented by growing numbers of their citizens.
3. In any given country, there are far more unskilled and low-skilled people than highly trained technicians and professionals. Therefore, in today’s high-tech economy, population increases essentially mean more job-seekers, polluters and additional pressure on social services and natural resources. Drought and global warning have already affected many parts of the world: Population growth will only exacerbate water shortages and climate change.
4. It is a Ponzi scheme to claim that population growth is required to help solve our fiscal and economic problems. When France and England were the most powerful nations on Earth, their then populations were substantially smaller than today’s. Similarly, in the 1960’s when the middle class Americans experienced great quality of life, the U.S. population then was less than 2/3 of its current size!
5. The world’s population situation is dire: Despite China’s draconian one-child policy adopted in 1979 and the negative international migration it has experienced, more than 350 million people have since been added to China’s population. Worse: China’s population is projected to continue to grow until 2030 even if it maintains its one-child policy. Presently, nearly 60 countries in the world have fertility rates higher than 3.0.
Based on the above, clearly, granting permanent refuge to foreign poor will not reduce global poverty. Therefore, in addition to adopting Theresa May’s suggestions, the European Commission and other leaders must urge developing nations to emulate Taiwan’s uniquely effective and non-coercive family planning program initiated in 1964 when its total fertility rate was 5.1: Since 1983, the island country’s net reproductive rate has been among the lowest in the world. It also has the lowest poverty rate!
To truly ensure quality of life for all human beings on Earth, aside from addressing trade, education, labor and environmental policies, each country has the mandate of stabilizing its own population and providing job opportunities for its people.
Saigon-born YEH Ling-Ling, Executive Director of U.S.-based Alliance to Stabilize Our Population, has opinion pieces published in numerous major U.S. newspapers.
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