Marta Foresti

"The answer to the migration can't be the border control"


"Border control policies are doomed to failure," this was one of the messages that Marta Foresti, director of Human Mobility Initiative, launched at the conference "The economic balance of migration" on Tuesday, November 5 at the Palau Macaya of Barcelona.

The conference, which was moderated by Professor of Economics, Josep Oliver, was part of the cycle "The future is intercultural" of the Re-City platform organized by the Catalunya Europa Foundation together with La Caixa, the Roma Club and the support of the Barcelona City Council, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and the Generalitat of Catalonia.

In his speech, Josep Oliver, professor of economics applied to the UAB and co-director of Europe G, reviewed the migratory movements of recent years in Spain and Catalonia. "We experienced an important migration process in the late 1990s due to the lack of labor and youth in the labor market and, probably, now we are facing another process that seems inevitable." Oliver emphasized that immigration is necessary for demographic reasons and for its positive contribution to the labor market.

According to data from the Bank of Spain, 40% of the GDP growth between 1997 and 2007 must be attributed to immigration. "His contribution to economic growth is undoubtedly true," said Oliver, but "the problem is that it was a growth, without control or planning, fueled by the building boom, that it failed and generated a low-skilled occupation and low added value ". Thus, during the 1997-2007 decade, housing construction multiplied by five and went from building 150 thousand to 800 thousand homes a year. Immigration came to represent 40% of the new occupation that was created and in a decade the population in Spain grew by 6 million inhabitants, reaching 45 million, thus increasing the demand for public consumption but also of occupation. For this reason, the economics professor warned that "these growth processes must be regulated in order not to distort the labor market and not to repeat the mistakes of the past, as many workers, migrants and autochthonous people ended unemployment. In order to be able to achieve a reasonable integration, we have already seen that it has happened in other countries when there is an explosion without control. The absence of immigration policies causes unrealistic artificial structures to be created. "

Immigration and development have always gone hand in hand.

On the other hand, the expert in migratory movements, Marta Foresti, stressed that immigration "is a phenomenon that has happened throughout history and that will continue to exist, as it is a natural and necessary process for the development of migrants. Countries. There has always been a great mobility of poor countries in rich countries. " Marta Forest agreed with Josep Oliver that the economic balance and the contribution to GDP are very positive, but regretted that we looked too much at social costs and little on the needs and capacities of migrants. "We should try to understand how they are and not let ourselves be led by stereotyped visions that do not let us see the reality. We tend to separate between economic immigrants and refugees, based on clichés, and we forget other groups such as women or the young people ".

For this reason, Forest asked not to fall into polarized debates, in favor or against immigration, and that the phenomenon was not addressed only with "border control policies, which are doomed to failure. The question is not between open borders for all or closed for the majority. We must address the issue as a whole and address the problems of the whole society, the future of work, the sustainability of basic social services, mobility or climate change. We have to look for the solutions from a more pragmatic and less political or ideological point of view ".

Currently, the phenomenon of migration tends to temporality and shifts are shorter. For this reason, it proposes to the states that measures based on this changing reality, the labor market, demographic trends, the profiles of those who want to come and the needs of each country, city or territory and those of their neighbors. "

Cities, key in the reception of migrants.

The director of the European think tank, Urban Mobility Initiative, recalled that "mobility and immigration have always been linked, sometimes as a result of a decision and others, of a necessity. The difference, when we talk about immigration, There is a border in the middle. This situation is neither good nor bad, it simply forms part of human nature, and its impact can be more positive or negative depending on the economic and political context of each moment. "

Marta Forest also talked about the young people and the cities: "it is necessary to understand that traditionally young people have always gone to the cities to look for new job opportunities, studies, lifestyles, to be close to the family or to flee poverty ". In this sense, "cities have always worked as a hub of economic and social development for immigration," explained the expert born in Italy and working in London. "In cities, the majority of those who live there are naturally immigrants that come from all over the world." Therefore, "cities need to cooperate to work collectively and less politicized than the states".

More investment in education to combat prejudices.

On the prejudices against migrants, Forest noted that the percentage of immigration at the global level is not as high as it seems. In addition, most of the trips take place at the local and regional level, although the trend is increasingly going to more distant countries for economic reasons.

Whatever the case, "we must not fall into the speeches of panic in the face of an alleged invasion as propagated by some politicians or the media, which unfortunately exploit the fear of the citizens to take away electoral rewards." Against this, Forest considers it important to invest in education for the benefit of all, whether immigrants or indigenous people. He also believes that "it is necessary to provide legal paths so that no one can live their lives hiding in trucks, ships or trains to cross a border. If Europeans can travel from one country to another, this should be reciprocal. "

For Forests, changing this depends on governments but also by citizens who reproduce false beliefs about immigration. A negative view that feeds the extreme right, whose rise, according to Foresti, has nothing to do with immigration but rather with a problem related to inequalities in globalization, to which politicians have added the question of Migration to make us believe that if we move the way to immigration, our problems will be solved. And that is a lie. "

Precisely, at the presentation of the conference, Jaume Lanaspa, president of the Club Roma in Barcelona, ??highlighted immigration as a positive affair against myths against migrants and, in order to avoid harming the prejudices, asked the administrations "to act with more transparency and coordination in the games destined to the social helps ". For his part, Josep Maria Vallès, vice president of the Fundació Catalunya Europa, co-organizer of the series of conferences, stressed the important role that cities can play in managing global challenges such as immigration, diversity and interculturality

In fact, cities participate in the cycle "For an intercultural future" through the Metropolis network that groups 132 major cities around the world, and especially with the collaboration of the councils of Gavà, Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Sant Boi de Llobregat.