Friday, February 16, 2007

First Arivaca International Conference on International Borders and Migration

On 10 March 2007, I will be hosting the first Arivaca International Conference on International Borders and Migration. The conference will have four presenters from outside the community who will address various aspects of international migration. It will be open and free to the public and take place at the Arivaca Community Center from 9:00 am to 5pm. There will be two coffee breaks and a break for lunch. I have reserved 20 minutes of time for questions and comments from the audience for each speaker. I hope to preside over a lively discussion between the invited speakers and the audience.

My goal with this conference is to examine the role of migration across international borders in a comparative global context. It will thus deal with migration in Europe as well as the Americas. I will give a short introductory paper on the history of international migration. My goal is to frame the topic in a global perspective and encourage the audience to think about the connections, similarities and differences of various migrant flows. I hope that this exercise will allow the listeners to place the talks by our invited guests into a coherent conceptual framework. Rather than just viewing these case studies as isolated movements of people I want people to think about them as parts of larger historical and international trends.

The first invited paper by Dr. Rudolf Pueschel will deal with the long-term environmental and social consequences of the expulsion of the German population from north Bohemia in Czechoslovakia in 1945 and 1946. The forced removal of the German communities from north Bohemia and their replacement with Czech settlers greatly altered the landscape, architecture and economic use of the region. Among other changes the ethnic cleansing of the Germans from north Bohemia led to massive environmental degradation. Unlike the other invited papers, Dr. Pueschel will be dealing with effects of emigration rather than immigration. The impact of losing population rather than gaining it due to migration has been unduly ignored.

Next, the conference will deal with the influx of illegal immigrants into the various countries of the European Union. Professor Richard Griffiths of Leiden University will talk about the efforts of the European Union as a whole to control entry across its borders by illegal immigrants seeking work. Specifically he will discuss the European Union attempts to police the English Channel, the coast of Southern Italy and the eastern border of Germany. This paper will thus provide a detailed and comparative look at the interconnections between the flows of illegal immigrants into different countries.

Professor Chris Quispel also of Leiden University will talk about illegal immigration into the Netherlands. He will deal with the reasons for illegal immigration into the Netherlands, the policies of the Dutch government regarding these immigrants and the opinions of the Dutch citizenry towards them. The Netherlands will thus serve as an individual case study for this conference regarding illegal immigrants in the European Union.

The final paper will cover immigration into the US. Dr. Greta Uehling will speak about the smuggling of children into the US. She will discuss how the US government deals with unaccompanied minor children coming into the US illegally. Among topics she will cover are the differences in US treatment of such children depending upon their country of origin. In particular she will be comparing how US authorities deal with children from Latin America versus those from Asia. Her paper provides a detailed analysis of a little discussed aspect of US immigration policy.

I hope that this event stimulates a lively discussion of the various issues involved in international migration. In particular I hope it encourages people to think about these issues in a broader perspective. The current mass flow of illegal immigrants into the US across the Mexican border is not unique. It is part of a larger set of international and historical trends. It can be better understood when viewed in this perspective.


SiberianLight said...

Congratulations on pulling all this together, Otto. Sounds like a fascinating conference.

Will you be publising a report of the conference on your blog?

J. Otto Pohl said...

Thanks for the comment Andy. Yes, I will be posting a report on how the conference went on my blog. Right now I am trying to publicize the event among the local population.