31/05/2017 03:57 SAST | Updated 31/05/2017 07:23 SAST

Here's Why We Should Love Our (Legal) Migrants

Immigration on average has positive economic effects on the native population.

Esam Al-Fetori / Reuters

It is often said that when the usefulness of a thing is not known, its abuse is imminent. I'd like to use these words to contrast the behaviours of some countries on how they treat migrants in. A question that comes to the minds of many people could be, why can't the migrants stay in their countries? Of what importance are they to my country etc.

Of course, there is really nothing wrong with the question asked but it is, however, crystal clear that countries waging wars against foreigners on the basis that they are a threat to their livelihood in their countries are doing so out of ignorance. Some locals would often claim that their jobs are being stolen. Truth is, no country in the world can really thrive and rise without acknowledging the preponderance of law-abiding immigrants.

What is immigration and who are immigrants?
Immigration is the international movement of people into a destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there, especially as permanent residents or naturalised citizens, or to take up employment as a migrant worker or temporarily as a foreign worker.

An immigrant is, therefore, a person who comes from a different country to live permanently in a foreign country. This could be for economic reasons, security reasons, etc.

As for economic effects, research suggests that migration is beneficial both to the receiving and sending countries. Research, with few exceptions, finds that immigration on average has positive economic effects on the native population.

'Immigrants are indeed part of the fabric of our society'
According to Africa Check, DESA estimates that, in 2015, there were over 3,14-million international migrants living in South Africa.

On one of my posts on xenophobia in South Africa, I wrote: 'Know that you need foreigners. It's wonderful to live with people because you can learn new things, new languages, foods and most especially develop SA." A country that appreciates diversity will understand that immigrants should be welcomed, embraced and not discouraged. I remember accommodating about two homeless men both white and black into our mission house some years ago. The point is if locals can be accommodating and friendly with migrants, this will further help in a long way.

Since the election of the U.S. new president, Donald Trump, a report has shown that many brilliant Technology experts have started migrating to nearby Canada on the fear of being discriminated against because they are immigrants. This shows that another country willing to take these professionals will have a lot to gain.

For many reasons, I want to believe that legal immigrants contribute greatly to the development of a country, especially economically and in diversity. Immigrants are indeed part of the fabric of our society, it's time to celebrate, not vilify them.

I think it is about time that we embrace immigrants who are lawfully abiding in our countries because we have a lot to gain from them. Many of these immigrants are investors, employers in countries they reside. Many are human right Lawyers, activists, Brilliant Techs, Doctors, security officers e.t.c.

It is time to say NO to xenophobia and celebrate immigration.