I am fortunate enough to live in a country that has made rapid strides in poverty alleviation over the last few decades, and if I wanted to move out of India, the reasons would be no different from why Western expatriates (a posher word for short term immigrants) look for jobs in emerging Asian countries. It would essentially be a combination of better pay, an opportunity to learn a new language and be a part of a new culture, and just to experience some new kind of adventure.
However, I will be the last person on earth to judge those who are trying to escape poverty, strife and violence and start a new life in another country, even if they are going on rickety fishing boats. Sure, mass immigration to a country with large unemployment and depleting resources is not the best scenario for either the immigrant or the host nation. But then, these people whether they are Latin Americans trying to sneak in to the United States, or Africans and Arabs looking for a better life in Europe or Burmese refugees trying to reach Malaysia, essentially what they’re doing is no different from what Europeans did for centuries.
Europeans invaded North America and built the country on the enslavement of one race and the genocide of another. Where was the legality there? Or for their invasions of South America and Australia? Was colonisation legal? Did the British, Dutch and Portuguese ask the Indians, Indonesians and indigenous people of Brazil for permission to come in live, loot and oppress?
The present world order was set by the very same people who broke every tenet of decency when they dominated the world.
I am of the firm belief that African people should overthrow their Western-backed dictators and focus on building their own nations. Right policies can lead to a revival in Africa, much on the lines of what happened in Asia. But, labelling everyone who is in search of a better life as a criminal simply disgusts me. If we’re going to use this as a yardstick, we might as well stop glorifying people like Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama.
Asia was doing fine enough before the Europeans came here on a “civilising mission” and introduced the concepts of identity cards and the nation state.