In every culture, hosts are expected to prepare to welcome the guest. Parents prepare to welcome their babies, hospitals prepare to welcome patients, and the examples go on and on. Every time the host fails to prepare adequately to receive his or her visitor, things don’t quite turn out as they should. However, no matter how inadequately prepared the host is, asking the guest to leave is out of the question. Rather, the host tries to adjust to the situation, and tries his or her best to make the guest comfortable.
This is exactly what is happening in the world right now with immigration. Many countries jumped into the idea of welcoming immigrants without proper planning. Some have even been forced to welcome them against their better judgement and will. In response, some countries have come up with policies that make immigrants uncomfortable. Other countries have had it much easier, as their “patriotic” citizens decided to take matters into their own hands and make sure that giving immigrants a hard time becomes their hobby.
It is understandable the reaction of these host countries, as this situation will lead to an increase in the population and pressure on services. This does not change the fact that the situation is very uncomfortable.
It is depressing enough that people have to leave their homes, their roots, and their countries for reasons beyond their control. But then, migrating to countries where the system and the host citizens are against them is another burden they have to bear. At a time when human rights are being defended more than ever, and we have the greatest number of human rights organizations ever, it is surprising that the general public understands so little about the different categories of immigrants — including refugees, humanitarian, economic and familial. It’s even more surprising that despite all the talk about the world’s globalization, most countries still prefer to live as islands, independent and self-sufficient from the rest of the world.
As would-be human rights activists and protectors, it is high time we answered the big question behind the immigration crisis: what matters? Is it nationality or humanity? Shouldn’t countries welcome immigrants based on the fact that they are humans and equally deserve the treatment their own citizens enjoy? Or should they instead allow their attachment to their nationality to dictate the treatment these people receive?