The past year, along with Donald Trump’s comments and the horrible attack at Charlie Hebdo’s office, also saw one of the largest human migration in years. The disruption caused due to the civil war in Syria and the rising tension within the middle eastern countries has led to a surge in the number of migrants heading to the European Union for refuge. However, common claims against the migration is that a lot of these migrants consists of “bogus refugees” as oppose to genuine refugees. Here, genuine refugees refers to the migrants who have evaded their home country due to imminent threat to their personal integrity or to their life. Bogus refugees, on the other hand, is used to describe the economic migrants who have been using this surge in the migration to illegally penetrate the European nations in search of better opportunities.
Migration has been a tense topic within countries for a long period. There have been many instance of contention between long term migrants and natives. A common reason for the long term migration has been to find better economic opportunities.
Economists John R Harris and Michael Todaro have used utility function of migrants to show that the primary cause for migration is the higher expected earning in urban regions when compared to rural regions. Similarly, better economic opportunities in developed countries acts a pull force for economic migration. However, the economic migration over a longer term increases the tension between the natives and the migrants for reasons like scarce public resources and socio-political impact of the change in demography. Hence, there exists a strong opposition towards increase in the number of economic migrants. The relevant Indian examples being include North eastern student attacked in Bangalore, attacks on North Indians in Mumbai etc. It is to avoid this conflict that various countries in the EU have currently denied access to the asylum seekers too.
There are many scholars who have tried to solve this conundrum by trying to study the factors that lead to migration. For instance, Eric Neumayer, in his paper “Bogus Refugees? The Determinants of Asylum Migration to Western Europe” has tried to find ways to check whether the asylum migrants are genuine. Neumayer, however, does not provide any strong determinant in his paper. A similar work has been done by Nathalie Williams and Meeta S. Pradhan in their paper “Political Conflict and Migration:How has Violence and Political Instability Affected Migration Patterns in Nepal?”. The objective of the paper is to understand how civilians perceive and react to political conflict and the long-term consequences that this social change may entail in which they show that migration is an outcome of large socio-political conflicts like civil wars.
Solving this confusion between the genuine and bogus migrants might reduce at least one complexity faced by the European migration crisis.
Devika Kher is a Research Associate at Takshashila Institution. Her twitter handle is @DevikaKher.