migration

November 22, 2013

A poster of King Abdullah II hangs, lopsided, on a peeling white wall over 34 Sudanese men crouched on the floor. Their eyes turn to Mohamedain Suliman as he enters, one hand touching his black beret in greeting. Ahlan wa sahlan. One man steps forward to welcome the 55-year-old, Darfur-born Suliman, who commands respect as the unofficial Sudanese liaison for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the oldest man in the room.

Funny thing about being an American living away from America: It makes you think more about what it means to be an American. But which is the dominant sentiment? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or out of sight, out of mind. The answer depends on a lot of variables. Over the years, various people and projects have explored those variables: the mechanics and meanings of expatriatism.

When chipotle and kimchi abound in the suburbs and Univision co-hosts a presidential debate, it is easy to forget how sudden and extraordinary our ethnic makeover has been. Americans middle-aged or older were born into a country where immigrants seemed to have vanished. As recently as 1970, the immigrant share of the population was at its lowest level on record, and the foreign-born were mostly old and white.

They represent a large component of Hong Kong's middle and moneyed classes…Many returned with educations and English skills acquired in Canada's best schools and universities. But the Hong Kong government has failed to acknowledge this vast community because it does not officially recognise their Canadian identity out of deference to China's nationality laws, which preclude dual citizenship.

The Grand Opening festivities commenced with a greeting from Sweden’s Minister for Culture, Ms. Lena Adelsohn Liljerot: “Sweden has experience with migration in both directions. Between 1890 and 1920, 1.3 million Swedes immigrated to North America. Swedish landing in 1638 and the great transatlantic partnership between Sweden and the U.S. are among events to be celebrated throughout 2013 as a part of our Globalization theme.”

It remains to be seen how Europe will solve the many questions posed by continuing migratory flows...But if it wants to keep its “soft power” and “transformational value” as part of efforts to effect change in its neighbourhood, any policy will have to be in line with the EU’s much trumpeted core values and principles.

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