To Even Debate Immigration, We Must Use the Right Language

A warning cry has begun that COVID will mean the end of immigration. On the surface, the numbers are stark: In July 2020, the U.S. Department of State issued 4,412 immigrant visas compared with 39,568 in July 2019, but the reality on the ground is different. It is not simply the ballooning migrant camps waiting on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border or the crush of inflatable dinghies crossing the English Channel, bearing African and Middle Easterners from France to Great Britain. It is that too many on both sides, the left and the right, have been lying about immigration: starting with the name. 

Over the last decade, immigration has morphed into something else, now called by the dangerously deceptive term “migration,” which lumps together all routes of entry, lawful and unlawful. Thus far, the U.S. and Europe have avoided a real debate on what impact this new movement of human beings will have on the future of these countries and indeed our civilizations. We debate immigration and fences and walls when we should be debating migration. 

It is a debate that we cannot avoid for much longer. 

The first part of our “migration” problem is legal: Western Europe and the U.S. are still largely governed by a 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which was expanded in 1967 to cover anyone living in what can be considered a “dangerous” place. That definition allows potentially hundreds of millions of people worldwide to qualify as refugees. The U.N, High Commission on Refugees estimates that there were 26 million likely candidates for resettlement at the end of 2019. All that is needed is to arrive in a hospitable country and claim asylum.

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