Any quest for the solution to the problems of immigration should rest on this foundation.
We might start that quest with the briefly discussed but ill-fated efforts to agree on national quotas. These at least reflected an incipient belief in an international approach to the problem. Agreement might be sought, perhaps, for international standards at some absolutely minimal level — no separation of children from parents or some guarantee of due process.
Some international standards already exist, in the definitions, for instance, agreed upon in the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees for concepts such as fear of persecution. Or in the agreements against the use of poison gas and chemical weapons in warfare. Why not international standards for the treatment of those seeking to emigrate out of similarly defined urgent need?
We also already have a variety of national and international limited agreements for immediate remedial measures. Germany finances aid to Turkey to promote its measures reducing flight from that country. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, helped by the high commissioner for refugees, briefly signed an agreement, unfortunately short-lived, to support financially measures in Eritrea and Sudan to staunch the flow of refugees from those countries to Israel and to cooperate with other western countries to accept refugees emigrating from them. Other ideas have surely been advanced along similar lines and deserve study attention.
And could we not at least envision further principled moves to support universal free education through grades 12, with an international fund and matching local contributions for financing? Wasn’t there once a broad Marshall Plan that had victorious countries aiding devastated ones after the Second World War? Couldn’t such efforts at least be aspirations to put on the table in international conferences — and even in our own election campaigns? Wouldn’t positive relations with our allies and neighbors, not a route the Trump administration seems interested in taking, be enhanced by such discussions?
Might even Donald Trump find some value in such a direction, as relieving him, all alone, from having to face problems that he clearly is not on the way to solving by himself? Cynically, perhaps, but usefully, kicking the can of immigration reform upstairs?
Peter Marcuse is a professor emeritus of urban planning at Columbia University. Born in Berlin in 1928, he emigrated to the United States as a small boy early in the Third Reich. The author of many books, he currently blogs on critical planning and related concerns.
Original source: Common Dreams
Image credit: Erik Brandt / Typografika