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Anti-Immigration, The Rising Influence of the Far Right, And What It Means for the Rest Of the World

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Jakarta, IO – Over the past few decades scores of people looking to flee from conflict zones and seek relief from the economically depressed regions of the global South have led to an increasingly and unprecedented influx of émigres in developed countries. 

Migration has demonstrably and fundamentally transformed the demographic and political landscapes of both Europe and the United States. As the number of foreign-born residents, asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants has surged, the ramifications have been profound in the realm of political discourse and national elections. 

Left unchecked, larger numbers of émigres will invariably contribute towards an increasing popularity of rightwing political parties. This will exacerbate social divisions and polarization, particularly on issues related to identity, immigration and national sovereignty. Rather than multilateral cooperation and global governance, right-wing governments will tend to emphasize bilateral relations and national interests. In a word, the consequences could be wide and far-reaching. 

The scale of the problems related to immigration policies is best exemplified by America. Since the turn of the century, the United States has experienced a notable increase in its foreign-born population. In 2000, there were approximately 31 million foreign-born residents. By 2020, this number had risen to about 44.9 million, representing 13.7% of the total population. 

The top five states with the highest concentrations of foreign-born residents–which represent 60 percent of the total number for the entire USA- -are California, Texas, Florida, New York and New Jersey. 

For instance, California’s foreign-born population was 10.3 million in 2020, constituting about 25% of its population. In Texas, there were almost 5 million foreign-born residents, or around 17% of the state’s population. In Florida, foreign-born residents numbered 4.5 million, or 21% of all Floridians. In New York, foreign-born residents were 4.4 million, or 22% of the total population. In New York City alone, an astounding 40% of the city’s population were foreign-born residents. And in New Jersey, there were 2.1 million foreign-born residents, representing 23% of the state’s population. 

In Europe, the foreign-born population has similarly expanded, increasing from 49 million in 2010 to 58 million in 2020. Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Italy in particular have seen significant increases in foreign-born residents. 

Germany’s foreign-born population increased from approximately 7.3 million in 2000 to 13.1 million in 2020, making up almost 16% of its population. The United Kingdom saw its foreign-born population almost double, rising from 4.9 million in 2000 to 9.5 million in 2020, representing 14% of its population. For France, Italy and Spain the percentage of foreign-born residents against the total populations of each country are also noteworthy at 13%, 10% and 14% respectively. 

In cities like London and Paris, the changes are even more pronounced. London’s foreign-born population grew from 1.9 million in 2002 to 2.9 million in 2011, and further to around 3.3 million by 2020, making up about 37% of its population. Paris has also seen substantial growth with a foreign-born population that now constitutes more than 20% of the city’s total population. 

Should current growth rates remain constant, Europe will have total of 70 million and the United States 51 million foreign-born residents by 2030–this means 13% of the entirety of Europe will be foreign-born nationals and 14% of America’s population will be foreign-born. 

The potential significance of these demographic shifts depend upon several variables: the ethnicities of migrant groups; their respective differences or similarities in religion and cultural values with local populations; and their willingness to integrate with their adopted countries are critical factors when considering the impact of migration. 

Immigrants from similar cultural backgrounds normally find it easier to adapt to the host country’s norms, reducing friction and misunderstandings. Common values and beliefs can facilitate mutual understanding and acceptance between immigrants and the native population. Fewer cultural and religious differences can also lead to lower levels of social tension and conflict, and similarities can help immigrants build relationships and networks more easily, aiding their integration into the community. 

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