Date: 24.03.2021 7-minute read
Future of Immigration in a Post-Pandemic World? The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Numerous countries, including the United States, have implemented travel or entry restrictions at their ports of entry. These changes will impact nonimmigrant visa holders as well as certain immigrants. The outbreak has also disrupted immigration services and proceedings within the United States.
The world of immigration will look extremely different after (Rachel) this most recent pandemic. Obviously, the most dramatic change has been the closure of borders around the world. Despite the fact that original carriers of the virus were indeed not migrants, they were people from a much more privileged socioeconomic status who were traveling internationally.
Migrants have suffered on the frontline of this crisis as well. We have already seen the detection of cases in migrant camps for example in Greece. One of the effects that we see is the fear of migrants ramping up. This is because they are often incorrectly considered vectors of disease. Also, that is an excuse for some more punitive policies at the US-Mexico border. The Trump Administration has just sent troops down to the US-Mexico border to prevent people from coming into the country.
One other thing that I wanted to mention is the question of deportation.
So, it will be really interesting to see how the receiving countries for deportees continue to think about issues in the wake of the corona virus. It is not just a question of migration into Europe, into the United States. It’s also a question of countries in the Global South, making decisions about whether they are going to continue to accept deportees at this time.
Portugal recently announced that they are going to treat all migrants in the country as having access to all of the social services as a normal citizen. They have not regularized people’s status. However, they have agreed for the duration of the Coronavirus crisis to treat asylum-seekers. Also to treat migrants in that country as full citizens. In terms of access to social services, welfare, hospital services, etc. Portugal is a very interesting example of doing that. What I will say is that the current economic policies that are being worked out in the United States will have very long-lasting effects on both the health and economic well-being of migrants in our country.
It is very notable that the stimulus bill provided provisions for freelancers. For example, that was something that was not to be taken for granted. However, there will be no checks going out to be estimated 11 million undocumented people in the United States, because they do not hold a Social Security number and so even if you are going to look at it less as a moral issue and more as a public health and economic issue, that is a major lever for economic stimulus and also for people’s health and well-being that we are leaving unpressed.
We know that migration is caused by a combination of push and pull factors, there is no scenario that I can imagine in which this pandemic will not constitute a serious push factor throughout the Global South. If not for health reasons, then certainly for economic reasons. And I will also note that all of these natural disasters pandemics have a significant class and race aspect.
So, I think that we can already see that this pandemic has a class effect-where those who a wealthier and have access to safe ways to travel, maybe able to do so more quickly in the future whereas those who are working-class or are attempting to seek refuge in countries, that perhaps are far away from them. And maybe they were already paying human smugglers large quantities of money to get to those places of refuge that are going to become inaccessible.
If we have a scenario, for example in which only people who have certified documents, showing that they have been treated for coronavirus or have been vaccinated for coronavirus are able to cross borders, of course, that kind of travel documents will only be accessible to a certain class socio-economic class. But I do not think it is out of the realm of imagination that we are going to require significantly larger numbers of health documents in order to allow people to cross borders. I imagine those standards being harder to meet and the level of documentation required going way up.
As we saw from the interview of Ms. Rachel Nolan, the immigration issue is changed forever. The interview took place on 22nd of April 2020 and we can already see, nowadays that her thoughts, that we will travel with a lot of documents proving our health status are indeed a FACT. Most of the countries totally shut down their borders for the working class. Only some important wealthy people are able to travel freely across the world. Refugees are rejected because they are proclaimed to carry the disease. Furthermore, they can not do anything about it, because they do not have documents to prove it.