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Technology and Immigration

Hyper connectivity in the age of the Internet, has created an extensive network of information exchange, which in some cases promotes immigration or simply discourages it. If online dating in countries where underdevelopment is the norm, has opened the world to a host of people who otherwise would never have found a way to go elsewhere by meeting partners or opportunities employment in countries as remote as unnamable, it is undeniable that technology that is now present in our lives is decisively affecting the movement of people around the world.

However, it is important to emphasize that leaving, does not imply anymore necessarily to be cut off from one’s place of origin. Technology somehow allows a kind of gift of ubiquity, because whoever immigrates, through social networks for example remains highly connected to his country of origin while those he leaves behind have no trouble knowing how he is doing. Thanks to the instantaneous sharing of moments of life through technology, we no longer need to wait for a hypothetical letter during months, to hear news from each other in details that we were forced to imagine, when a live call answers all these questions in a split second.

The old image of the uprooted migrant has been replaced by that of a migrant who travels by keeping in touch not only with his country of origin but also with all the stages of his past and future journey. The migrant of the era of the new communication technologies is a connected being, a characteristic which confers him hypermobility and a multiple belonging which places him in a sphere where he masters the information which gives him a kind of power in the logic of the rational choices, while preserving his identity memory, which allows him to exist in a world of exchange. In this optics the technology strengthens the feeling of identity, because the migrant knows that in the cultural concert, he must bring his own sounds to exist.

The new technologies allowing migration, could only lift nationalist shields in nations in the northern hemisphere that since the end of the Second World War have been privileged destinations for migrants, even if in reality, the majority of immigration is between the nations of the south since it’s easier for the populations living there to go to bordering countries, than in Australia or America, where in general migrants have no connection or means that would favor their migration to these countries. If the countries of southern Europe such as France and Spain seem to be a prime target, it is not always because of their high standard of living compared to the southern countries, it is mainly because of the cultural links that despite everything, since the time of colonization and beyond unite these populations.

And more, it is also because of the social and economic difficulties in their country of origin combined with the influence of their compatriots having immigrated to these countries that they often want to leave. The sharing in social networks of the real or fictitious lives of their fellow citizens in Western nations is a propagandist force for immigration to which some do not resist. So many tragedies due to illegal immigration in addition to the disastrous economic social conditions are undeniably linked to the influence of what the candidates for immigration sees in social networks. However, the media coverage of these dramas by the same technologies somewhere urges the masses not to risk everything to immigrate.

The countries of the northern hemisphere, major producers of technology, are paradoxically the main vectors of immigration in a pattern that politicians seem to deny by criticizing immigration, which is only the result of the chaotic and unfair management of world’s business. When southern hemisphere countries are overexploited in the systemic deterioration of terms exchange, that enriches the north and impoverished the south; the catastrophic social economic climate can only push millions of people towards horizons deemed more favorable. The import of the democracy of canons by the diktat of western nations in countries like Somalia, Iraq, Libya, Syria or Venezuela, has increased the index of misery in these countries and forced hundreds of thousands of people to exile, that between 2015 and 2017 has experienced huge peaks resulting from the Arab Spring and the war in Syria. This influx of refugees has, in turn, seen a rise of nationalism in the countries of the Northern Hemisphere where several governments have been elected on anti-immigrant rhetoric as well in the United States, or England as in countries very less targeted by immigrants, such as Austria, whose proximity to Germany, and the migrant crisis it has experienced has tipped the country into the arms of the nationalism, which has used technology to influence votes to his advantage

A report from Dublin City University involving a massive data analysis of 7.5 million tweets during the 2015 and 2016 mass migrations to and across Europe, shows a rise in far-right online activism .

Research shows that far-right activists used testimonies to influence the polls during and after these events in a negative and racist way for political ends. In large part, they have been successful in influencing the political debate in Europe, making it much more difficult to implement proportionate and reasonable responses to migration. At the time, many felt there had been some policy failure. However, this masks more systemic and darker forces at work. The rhetoric about policy failure masks the efficiency of the use of the technological tool by the forces of the far right, which in the United States with the strategist Steve Banon of Breitbart News helped the election of Donald Trump using a provocative and nationalistic approach.

By bringing the immigration debate to the political scene, the far right has scored important points that have brought it back to power in several countries. Under their influence, some European countries withdrew their support for the European migration Pact after a campaign of right-wing activists. Again, we see commentators pointing out the failure of politicians rather than recognizing the effectiveness of right-wing activists who are fighting a battle online based on fear and lies born elsewhere. In fact, as a distinct category, US immigrant winners rank second, compared to US-born winners: they outnumber winners born in another country

(Najam, 2017). In 2016, the six US Nobel Laureates were all immigrants.

Numerous studies show the role of immigrants in technological progress. For example, Hunt and Gauthier-Loiselle (2009) found that in the United States during the 1940-2000 period, there was a strong causal relationship between the increase in the immigrant, post-graduate immigrant, and immigrant academics population, on one hand, and the number of patents on the other. They also showed that an immigrant university graduate contributed at least twice as much to patent as their native counterparts.

A recent chart shows that 15 of the top 25 US states in terms of technology (mostly ICT), worth more than $ 4 trillion, have as their founder first-generation or second-generation immigrants. These companies included Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, eBay, PayPal, Tesla and Yahoo (Molla, 2018). Several high-profile US companies - Google, Microsoft, Pepsi - have or have had executive directors with an immigrant background. Examples abound outside the United States too: Carlos Slim, who controls the major player in the telecommunications sector in Mexico (and the richest man in the world in 2010), is a second-generation Mexican from a Lebanese family .

While immigration actually has more influence on the economic fabric, politicians have made it a security topic that does not fit the realities. All immigrants do not come from a war zone and are not necessarily terrorists who come to commit crimes in their host nation, as the political propaganda says. So, the European Union, rather than building an immigration policy adapted to the new dynamics of mobility, continues to mix a security logic of control, which it values more than anything, with a utilitarian logic of welcoming qualified migrants to fill the lack of manpower in certain specific fields such as computer science.

Immigration issues are inextricably linked with those of border control, the fight against organized crime, terrorism and securing the means of identity. Linking together issues as diverse and antithetical as these is one of the most salient features of the security discourses that have been articulated since the 1980s, as Bigo says in his books published in 1996 and 1998.

Restrictive migration policies, such as that of the United States and the European Union, have allowed the development of other centers of attraction for highly qualified students. While the United States welcomes these students as undesirable, Canada and Australia are looking for them to benefit their technology sectors. Canada's Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which was announced in 2017, has focused on incorporating top talents. And when foreign students head north of the border, the United States loses highly skilled workers and investment.

Beyond their contribution to the technology of their host country, migrants and diaspora groups are an important channel for technology transfer to their country of origin. This may be due to the knowledge they transmit directly, or to remittances. Many immigrants working in the technology sector invest in their field in their country of origin and support the development of companies and research institutes.

If technology, and in particular digital connectivity offered by mobile phones, affects all aspects of migration: it provides access to pre-migration information, during travel and in destination countries; remittances for hosting; and help migrants stay in touch with their families; governments' management of immigration also relies heavily on technology. Some of these technologies raise concerns about the rights of migrants, but others, such as blockchain, may have more positive applications.


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