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End of the Migration Era

THERE seem to be more people on the move now than ever before. In Europe, applications for asylum have increased many-fold. In the new Germany, well over 200,000 immigrants are expected this year. Yet this may actually be the end of the age of migration.

Similar situations in other members of the European Community (EC) have brought forth governmental declarations that theirs are not "countries of immigration," as well as stringent proposals to modify statutes and procedures for controlling entry into the country. Europe, after all, is a very densely populated area.

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We all know about the tremendous unrest in Russia and Eastern Europe which, as some predict, could shake tens of millions of people loose from their moorings. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees lists 18 million refugees worldwide. According to some authorities there are, in addition, about 20 million people in Africa who are displaced within their countries by natural or political causes.

All of this occurs against a background of constantly increasing human numbers. The world population increases at about 10,000 per hour, 250,000 per day, 90 million per year. Freedom House, in its annual survey of freedom around the globe, reports that three-quarters of the world's 5.4 billion people live under conditions that are either "not free" or "partially free."

In China, where the government has set the official poverty level at an income of $38 per year, 50 million people have incomes below the 10 cents a day this amounts to. The push side of the migration equation is clear, and pressures are steadily increasing.

ON the receiving side, however, defenses are going up. All across Europe, discussions are being held on how to control immigration, with calls for a common migration policy for all 12 EC countries.

Of the 160-plus countries that belong to the UN, only three admit any appreciable numbers of legal immigrants. The United States takes perhaps 1 million per year (including in that count a low estimate for the illegal alien flow), Canada receives about 150,000, and Australia about 125,000.

These total about 1.25 million immigrants a year - out of a pool of perhaps 3 billion or more people worldwide who could improve their circumstances immensely by migrating to one of the three immigrant-receiving countries. We need to keep in mind that the pool of potential migrants is increasing by about 80 million per year. And 90 percent of the net increase of 90 million each year is in the less-developed countries.

To keep the math simple, assume that about 3 million people worldwide are willingly received as immigrants each year, out of a pool of about 3 billion potential migrants. That's 0.1 percent. Even this flow - large in the view of the receiving countries, and small in comparison to the possible demand - is producing a marked reaction in the receiving countries and generating calls for strong controls. It seems highly unlikely that tens of millions of people are going to be able to pull up stakes and move e lsewhere.

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Conclusion: The vast majority of people - the 99.9 percent - will have to bloom where they're planted. They will never be able to solve their personal or societal problems by moving away from them. The motto for the New World Order will have to be: "Stand and Fight," not "Cut and Run." The age of migration is at an end for all but the tiniest fraction of the human race.

Sadly, the few who are able to pack up and leave are often the very ones on whom their fellow citizens most need to rely for social change - those with some education and a view of a better future, those whose dissatisfaction can energize them to help bring about the changes that could make life more acceptable at home. If these people leave, how will change ever come?

It seems only a matter of time until the US, Canada, and Australia join the other 160 members of the UN in deciding that they already have enough people - other considerations notwithstanding. Would-be immigrants then will have to look within their own countries for solutions.

Paradoxically, the possibility of emigration now forestalls the development of this constructive attitude.

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