How many people is that?
On the news last night, a UN official said that 1% of the world’s population was in “refugee status.” I thought, “how close to home is this experience?”
I’m foreign-born, an immigrant. In the USA, 13% of the population is like me. That’s more than one in ten.
Other countries have more foreign-born immigrants: Australia has 27% of population, Canada 20%. Europe is at 7%.
That’s a lot of “displaced people.” Some fled certain death, economic disaster, hardship, oppression.
How many of us are familiar with the “immigrant experience?” A majority of the population identifies as within three generations of an immigrant. Those within three generations may be actually as high as 75% of the population.
You’ll be encouraged that second-generation Americans do very well, almost catching up with “natives” in many respects. That’s almost miraculous—and explains why a LOT of people want to come to the USA.
Remember “foreign-born” can mean: I don’t know the language, I have no house, I have no job or financial security, I don’t know how to get food-housing-jobs-healthcare-schooling. A huge learning curve in a foreign language. The days and months go by as you try to get out of poverty, send the kids to school, provide for the family.
Even so, for the second generation, median income and home ownership are CAUGHT UP with “natives.” And the percentage of college graduates EXCEEDS the rate for “natives.” Immigrants must be desperate for security and basic needs.
My parents were part of the 12 million people wandering around Europe right after World War II around 1945. I won’t repeat all the groups behind the numbers. They were all in misery over some reason they could not “go home” anymore.
There are other miseries besides being “displaced.” We could have the legacies of slavery and racism in our family experience. Native American mistreatments. Or, losing jobs and dropping into poverty, having to move and start over, for reasons other than national politics. “Food insecurity” which means you don’t have enough to eat, even though you may be born here.
There are about 1.5 million people seeking asylum in Europe now.
The numbers seem to say: Don’t be cold-hearted about immigrants. In America, there is probably one in your family tree within three generations.