Forced Migration and Immigration Restrictions

Human migration was viewed in an earlier section to be a way out for hunting-foraging groups in order to allow for continued population growth without placing undue pressure for survival on the limited resources of a given area. However, at some point in human history most of the productive areas of the world were occupied, and as a consequence competition was waged between individuals and groups for inhabitable space. Some might argue that the demise of Neanderthals came about as they encountered more modern humans, but that outcome is not yet proved to everyone's satisfaction. Displacement and/or replacement that far back in time provide academically interesting points of departure for research, but jumping forward to more contemporary periods brings out some of the most troubling events in human history involving involuntary movement of peoples. One need only mention the forced transport of African slaves to the New World and the Holocaust of World War II to bring home painful reminders of just how horrible population control can be.

Unfortunately, history is not finished in providing these painful lessons. At the present time refugees and their makeshift camps can be found in many parts of the world. Large numbers of people have been forced to leave their homelands in such examples as some African countries, former Yugoslavia, and Central Eurasia. Tragically, instances of forced movements of people are often accompanied by acts of genocide, recently termed, "ethnic cleansing" (Bok, 1994). Although the geopolitics are complex and do of course vary by region, there is an underlying commonality in the resultant very poor quality of life for these masses of suffering people. Controversies abound as to what should be done, and by whom. One action that has led to even greater concern is that of restricted immigration policies where oppressed peoples find borders closed to them.

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