Immigration Through a Circular Lens

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It’s all over the news. Most of the conversations start and end with fear. Britain changed their relationship with the EU on the basis of this fear. Donald Trump is using this fear as the driving force behind his campaign. Countries all over Europe are struggling with conflict at the intersection of policy and humanitarian values.

Is it possible to see the story of immigrants and refugees through a different lens? What would the headlines be if we stopped pushing back in fear and started to embrace humanity? Could we see a shift in the real-life problems that we are currently afraid of? I’m interested to find out how using a circular approach to immigration could lessen the fear and actually create more peace.

Experts around the world have found terrorist organizations recruit from those who don’t feel they belong in their community. People are looking for a place where they will feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Countries are struggling with the fear that immigrants and refugees pose a threat to their citizens’ safety. Governments, who are responsible for this safety, are asking if they accept refugees are they opening their borders to an influx of terrorists.

How about making the shift to see immigrates as citizens instead of “migrants”? Canada has taken the view that immigrants and refugees are here on the path to become citizens, thus including them as one of their own. That is a unique perspective to take in a world where most governments have the migrant view of the “other” coming temporarily until they are able to go back home.

This migrant mentality is the barrier to inclusion and belonging. Indigenous cultures have a practice of welcoming strangers. Including strangers as a part of the community is imbedded in the Canadian culture and has made its way into policy. Circular thinking shows us we can value our differences for the betterment of the community. When people have a sense of community and belonging, they are less likely to be recruited by the same terrorists that created the fear. So, instead of pushing people out because of our fears, let’s pull them in thus eliminating the need to be fearful in the first place.

This shift in thinking is not an easy one. It isn’t one without risk. No one is saying a circular approach will result in zero crime and perfect societies. But living in fear breeds more fear. What we have now is creating more divisions and more problems in the world. How about trying a different way?

Written by:

Michelle Eades

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