Opposition to Migration on the Rise Worldwide, Says Pew Survey

December 11, 2018 Updated: December 11, 2018

A new study by the Pew Research Center shows that people across the world are increasingly losing their enthusiasm for migration.

Researchers at Pew conducted telephone or face-to-face interviews with responders in 27 nations in the spring of 2018 and compiled the results in a study published Dec. 10.

“As the number of international migrants reaches new highs,” wrote Pew Research Center’s Phillip Connor and Jens Manuel Krogstad, “people around the world show little appetite for more migration—both into and out of their countries.”

Nearly half of the survey responders worldwide voiced their opposition to more migration.

“Across the countries surveyed, a median of 45 percent say fewer or no immigrants should be allowed to move to their country,” the researcher duo wrote, “while 36 percent say they want about the same number of immigrants. Just 14 percent say their countries should allow more immigrants.”

UN Migration Pact

The Pew survey was published on the same day that only 164 countries out of 193 United Nations member countries signed a global pact meant to foster cooperation on migration.

Ten countries, including the United States, Australia, Hungary, and Poland, have rejected the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).

Six more, among them Israel and Bulgaria, are debating whether to pull out, a U.N. spokesman told Reuters after the pact was adopted in a signing ceremony in Marrakesh. He did not say whether the rest of the countries absent from the conference might also withdraw from the pact.

According to the U.N. website, the GCM provides a framework for facilitating safe and orderly migration globally, with an effort to deal with migration “in a holistic and comprehensive manner.”

It also sets out a range of actionable commitments, which could possibly influence legislation and policymaking for member states.

The compact has 23 objectives that seek to boost cooperation among countries to manage migration, and includes such aims as to “strengthen the transnational response to smuggling of migrants” and “combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration.”

The pact has been criticized on grounds that it fails to draw a clear distinction between legal and illegal migration, that it could serve as an inspiration for individuals to engage in irregular migration, and that it purports to give transnational bodies a say in how any given sovereign country manages its borders.

Migration Worries in Europe

The Pew researchers said that residents of European countries that were popular destinations or transit zones in the recent migrant surge were the most vocal in expressing their opposition.

“In Europe, majorities in Greece (82 percent), Hungary (72 percent), Italy (71 percent) and Germany (58 percent) say fewer immigrants or no immigrants at all should be allowed to move to their countries,” Connor and Krogstad wrote in the survey.

According to Eurostat, an EU statistical service, last year 650,000 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the member states of the EU, and of these 538,000 were granted protection status.

In 2017, 46 percent of EU first instance asylum decisions resulted in positive outcomes.

Worldwide Misgivings

People in other countries had attitudes towards migration that were broadly in line with European reluctance.

“Large majorities in Israel (73 percent), Russia (67 percent), South Africa (65 percent) and Argentina (61 percent) say their countries should let in fewer immigrants,” the researcher duo wrote in their findings.

“In every country surveyed,” they added, “less than a third say their nation should allow more immigrants to enter.”

A record 258 million people lived outside their country of birth in 2017, according to the U.N.

This is an increase of over 100 million compared to the year 1990, in which the total international migrant stock stood at 153 million.

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