The World Is Failing Refugees from Nauru to the U.S.

Source: Time

By Ian Bremmer

As history buffs and film fans know, there weren’t enough lifeboats for passengers aboard the Titanic. As the boats, some less than full, pulled away from the sinking ship, debate began among the lucky few about whether to return to pluck the drowning from the water. Some claimed it was a moral duty to try. Others warned that the drowning masses might capsize the boats. I think about those arguments when I see today’s tidal wave of refugees.

The migrant story we now know best is one that begins in Syria and ends in Europe, or somewhere along the way. After more than a million entered the E.U. last year, Balkan countries like Hungary built obstacles to keep them out, and desperate European leaders cut a deal with Turkey to prevent asylum-seekers from entering Europe via Greece.

Immigration is also part of the story behind June’s Brexit referendum in the U.K. The percentage of U.K. residents born outside Britain is about 13 percent, but half of those have arrived just in the past 15 years. These are not Muslims fleeing misery in the Middle East and North Africa. These are mainly Poles and other Eastern Europeans profiting from E.U. immigration rules to work in a stronger economy. But the belief that rising levels of immigration were diminishing the quality of health, education and other services likely contributed to the British vote to leave the E.U.

The resistance to migrants is not limited to Europe. Although Japan is an aging country that badly needs an expanded workforce, it has some of the most restrictive immigration and work laws in the industrialized world. Only about 1.5 percent of Japan’s residents were born outside the country. Foreign workers make up less than 2 percent of Japan’s workforce. According to Japan’s justice ministry, 7,586 people applied for asylum in 2015. Just 27 were accepted.

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