immigration | July 28, 2011

Marcelo Suarez-Orozco: After Oslo, Clearing Up Facts on Immigration

“The irrational fear of immigration does not align with the facts,” says Marcelo Suarez-Orozco. In a recent Huffington Post article, he addresses the tragedy in Norway, where Anders Behring Breivik killed dozens of people, acting on his worldview that “Muslim Colonization” would result in the catastrophic destruction of Europe. In reality, Norway has a small Muslim community, comprising only a quarter of its immigrant population; of the country’s 550,000 immigrants, half are actually from other European countries. Furthermore, global immigration over the last fifty years has been remarkably stable, with only 3 percent of the world’s population as international migrants. Amazingly, 96 percent of all humans live in the country in which they were born. So, why all the anxiety over immigration? Suarez-Orozco says that, though immigration has been stable, it has been “terribly mismanaged.”

America now has the largest number of illegal immigrants in the world and, an Ocean away, the situation is just as dire, though for different reasons: “In Europe, at best, in the unanimous chorus of Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Prime Minister David Cameron, there is ‘failed multiculturalism.’ At worst, there is Breivik's European Declaration of Independence.” Amidst these circumstances, Suarez-Orozco contends, the solutions meant to address immigration issues are stuck on cruise control: they are “formulaic, underwhelming and [lacking] the seriousness and the magnitude this human dilemma demands.” Suarez-Orozco states bluntly that, “There has been no serious public debate on the purposes of immigration on either side of the Atlantic.”

The real issue isolated by Suarez-Orozco is integration: “Nobody seems to grasp that integration is a two way street bringing immigrants and native citizens alike into a cleared-eyed view that there is a shared fate in a changing world.” It's sage advice from the co-director of Immigration Studies at NYU, a man known for books like The New Immigration and Writing Immigration, which is due next month. Suarez-Orozco is also an insightful speaker, celebrated at conferences for his ability to synthesize a broad range of disciplines into rational and informative examinations of large-scale immigration issues that, daily, are changing the world.

Read more about immigration speaker Marcelo Suarez-Orozco