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Immigration. In pursuit of happiness.

One Italian immigrant of early 1900s expressed his opinion on immigration: “I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, I found out three things: First, the streets weren’t paved with gold; second, they weren’t paved at all; and third, I was expected to pave them.”

Working abroad is hard

What feelings and emotions fill you when you hear the words “immigration” and “immigrants”? Well, you can write about it in the comments later on. For me, individually, the first thought that comes to my mind when I hear the word “immigration” is a negative one. I start to feel that immigrants are people who come to my country to steal jobs. I have a feeling that they come to take our pretty girls. Just to remind you, I am Ukrainian, and we have a lot of beautiful women over here.

But after sitting down in my kitchen and making myself a cup of black tea, I start to analyze my thoughts and feelings. Slowly-slowly I come to the conclusion that immigrants are not bad at all. Of course, there are bad ones who come to a new country with evil intentions. But, I believe that the majority of these people are good guys and mean no harm to anyone.

And still, I could not understand why, at first, I had negative thoughts and emotions related to people who decided to migrate. And why after, I found my peace with it. And why I discovered that it was one of the social problems. I think my personal experience as an immigrant affected my perception of this topic.

For three years, I was working abroad. I was kind of an immigrant and kind of not. My job was at the reception desk on multiple cruise ships of one very famous Italian company. And even though we were sailing in different parts of the world, the management was still predominantly Italian. All of the officers working with the captain on the bridge were also Italians. One ship was like one small part of Italy. There was almost no discrimination applied towards me as an employee, although it was applied to some people of particular nationalities.

I don’t want to go into details. I just want you to have the picture: Usual Ukrainian guy working in the hospitality industry for one Italian company. Managers do not treat him very well, but he is filled with positive emotions and happiness. His salary is good (much better than in the country of his origin) and he can see the entire world.

The company provided him with free medical coverage, food, and accommodation. He can meet new people and enjoy his life in full. However, every day, he can feel the look of Italians on his back, and in their eyes, he always reads the same: “You are an immigrant.”

A few statistics on immigration

Since 2000, the number of immigrants around the globe increased significantly. While at the beginning of this century, there were 173 million of them, the numbers changed by now. According to the United Nations report, in 2017, there were already 258 million immigrants in different states of the world. And their quantity continues growing every year. In the chart below, you can see that the United States hosts the mosts of the immigrants.

UN report on immigration and happiness rates among immigrants
Chart from the official UN Report on immigration

It is also a well-known fact that immigration contributes to economic development. Cheap labor and often illegally employed migrants are the best solution for many businesses in well-developed countries.

And who even cares about the accommodation of those migrants, their social status, or their medical insurance? Employers are happy because their business is getting better. Governments are satisfied because the gross domestic product (GDP) percentage is improving. Everybody wins. But not immigrants.

Another well-known fact is that most or maybe even all of the immigrants experience social exclusion in the new environment. They struggle to integrate into new society with its particular cultural and religious values. It is impossible for many of them to become respected members of new communities in which they moved from their country of origin.

They might improve their financial situation and gain access to essential social benefits, but they would always remain socially excluded immigrants. Locals would always look at them as if they are the reason for high unemployment rates. They would always be held responsible for all the bad things happening in the country in the minds of local inhabitants.

My friend who is working abroad

While writing this article, I remembered my best friend, who is currently working abroad in Poland. Don’t get me wrong; he is not one of the best friends from my previous article. He is a real person, and I know him since early childhood. It happened that he was forced to go to work in another country. He was feeling more comfortable with the employment situation in Poland rather than in Ukraine. And the money is much better.

I talk to him almost every week. He shares the stories of his hard-working experience with me. And every time I listen to him, I realize that animals in well-developed countries are treated better than him. Polish people are not even trying to hide their resentment with Ukrainian immigrants. They say openly that Ukrainian people are stealing their jobs and prevent them from happiness. You can also Google to see how Polish employers treat Ukrainian workers, especially seasonal workers.

There are approximately 2 million Ukrainians currently working in Poland. They all came there to improve their lives through better pay. They mean no harm to anyone. Besides, millions of Polish people are migrating to Germany and the United Kingdom. I guess they are not entirely satisfied with the social and economic infrastructure of their country.

And there is another interesting data that I noticed in the chart above. As you can see, over 5 million immigrants were living in Ukraine in 2017. They come from nearby states. And if they still keep coming here every year, it means that it is not the worst country in the world. With the lack of foreign investments and military conflict in the East, some people are still eager to live here. I was surprised.

So the fact that I noticed is related to some kind of the immigration chain. People from Kazakhstan or Armenia are coming to work and live in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainians are seeking a better life and pay in Poland, the US, Canada, or other European countries. Citizens of Poland are not satisfied with their life in their native state and strive for happiness in Germany or the UK.

Happiness is a human right

The main point I am trying to make here is that happiness is a human right. If individuals feel like moving to another country, they should not be hindered in their attempts. People can choose what to study, where to work, or for whom to vote. But why they cannot decide where to live? Why is it so difficult to migrate to another country without the authorization of specific institutions? In the era of globalization and technological progress, there should be no borders.

One of the recent studies shows that people who changed their place of residence and moved to live in another country experience fewer negative emotions and better life satisfaction. Every person defines happiness from their perspective.

If one was working abroad for a while, experienced a foreign environment, and decided to come back home, where he would feel happier, he or she should do so. If one believes that moving and working in another state, despite the persistent social exclusion, would positively impact his or her and their family well-being, why it should be a problem?

But it will always be a problem. You see, it is another complicated chain. No, it’s even more like a closed cycle. Humans created governments. Governments created borders and labeled each individual according to the name of the country. These borders represent the idea that all humans must know their place. And if they try to move, their life will become hell due to overcomplicated procedures and laws. Moreover, another society would be waiting to blame them in all the problems of their country and the entire humanity.

Probably, for this reason, I felt negative emotions when I heard the word “immigration.” I understand that borders are crucial in terms of security as it is one of the ways to check who is coming inside the state. But there should be proper policies and legislation in each country to assure the provision of happiness to each immigrant instead of depriving them of this right.

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6 Responses

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  3. L’immigration est un fait qui existe depuis “la nuit des temps” tant que celui ci se fait du façon raisonnable elle peut être acceptée. Si cette limite est dépassée ou excessive, ceci ne peut qu’engendré des craintes et des tensions….l’histoire de l’humanité nous en donne une multitudes d’exemples et malheureusement l’être humain est ainsi fait….

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