In almost every country in the world, migration is the subject of lively debate: in the North, the arrival of foreigners in ever-increasing waves is viewed with suspicion, if not hatred. In the emerging countries, there is concern that the young elites, trained at great cost, are leaving for the countries of the North to complete their studies and no longer return to their country of origin.
Some countries manage to deal with these problems decently: some countries in the North manage to match the rate of arrival of migrants with their capacity to integrate. Some countries in the South manage to contract their young graduates so that, once trained abroad, they return to their country of origin to contribute their skills.
We must prepare ourselves for the fact that these problems will soon take on a much greater dimension: more and more Asians, Africans and Latin Americans will have no other choice, in order to survive conflicts and climatic changes, than to try to reach North America and Western Europe; most of them will live there illegally; those who will not be deported will make a life for themselves there, and have children there. As a result, the people of the North will become increasingly mixed, and it will even become the norm in Europe and the United States to have at least one foreign grandfather.
This should be seen as an opportunity: the peoples who are most open to the rest of the world are those who have been the most successful culturally, economically, socially and politically. From the Roman Empire to the Canada of today, the most prosperous countries are those that have been able to use the formidable contributions of these young people to fill their demographic gaps, even to the point of making them illustrious leaders. Others are less successful: France, in particular, has always had the greatest difficulty in welcoming foreigners, not wanting to see that it was itself the result of many mixtures and the contribution of many invaders (it is named after one of them, moreover); that more than one Frenchman in ten has at least one foreign parent and almost a third of the inhabitants of our country have a foreign-born grandparent.
We must go further and consider that, for a country, the multiplication of the origins of its citizens is an opportunity; provided that integration is successful and preserves the fundamental values of this nation, including, in the case of France, the values of secularism.
In particular, the inhabitants of one country who still have strong links with another, because they were born there (whether or not they retain nationality) or because their parents were born there and retain ties, form very specific communities, which are referred to as “diasporas”. The full potential of these communities is not being used. Both from the point of view of the country that receives them, and from the one from which they come.
Thus, in France, there are several million Algerians and French of Algerian origin, Moroccans and French of Moroccan origin, English and French of English origin, Malians and French of Malian origin; and so on for more than a hundred nationalities. Similarly, there are millions of French people abroad, who have remained French, and others who have become Americans, Australians, Israelis, or Canadians; and so many other particular situations. This is true of all countries. An extreme case is that of India, which has huge diasporas on all continents, even to the point of having a British Prime Minister and the heads of the largest American firms.
These diasporas already contribute much to their host countries and send significant resources back to their home countries. They could be even more, and it would be wrong not to use them strategically. By accepting that their members are bridges between their different countries. Economic, cultural, human bridges, allowing for a better understanding of each other and preventing conflicts, and there is nothing to prevent a double allegiance, which can help build bridges between these countries. Of course, if a conflict breaks out, diasporas have a duty to reserve their loyalty to the country of which they are citizens.
For France, for example, it is a chance to have so many French people in Morocco. It is also a chance to have so many Moroccans in France. We could imagine these two diasporas working to develop more projects between these two countries and reduce the misunderstanding that clouds people’s minds.
Finaly, all these links will also afford to understand that the best way to slow down migration would be to help emerging countries develop enough so that no one would want to leave.
Painting: Norwegians landing in Iceland in 872, by Oscar Wergeland (1844-1910)