|Questions for Discussion
Create a family tree. Ask your parents and grandparents about when and why your family immigrated to the United States. Was it mainly “push” factors or “pull” factors?
Whereas push factors usually drive migrants out of their countries of origin, pull factors generally decide where these travelers end up. The positive aspects of some receiving countries serve to attract more migrants than others. Following are three examples of the pull factors attracting migrants to receiving countries.
Higher standards of living/Higher wages: Economics provide both the biggest push and pull factors for potential migrants. People moving to more developed countries will often find that the same work they were doing at home is rewarded abroad with higher wages. They will also find a greater safety net of welfare benefits should they be unable to work. Aware of this situation, migrants are drawn to those countries where they can maximize benefits.
For example, Mexican migrants coming to America do not move in order to escape unemployment at home. Rather, it has been estimated that 80 percent of those who leave Mexico have jobs before they go. But, the wage gap between American and Mexican workers has widened since the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. wages are in fact an estimated 13 times that of Mexico. Thus, Mexican migrants come to America because they are attracted by the higher hourly wages, not simply to find any work at all.
Labor Demand: Almost all developed countries have found that they need migrants’ labor. Rich economies create millions of jobs that domestic workers refuse to fill but migrant workers will cross borders to take. Canada’s migrant population has nearly doubled over the past couple of years.
It was the worst imaginable way to jolt Canadians toward noticing that low-wage foreign workers are an increasingly important segment of the country’s labour force. Ten workers, nine from Peru and one from Nicaragua, recruited to fill jobs vaccinating chickens, were killed, and three others badly injured, when their van ran a stop sign and collided with a truck at a rural crossroads in southwestern Ontario… When Stephen Harper’s Conservatives won power in 2006, 255,440 foreign temporary workers lived in Canada. By 2010, their ranks had expanded to 432,682 (Geddes, 2012).
Political and Religious Freedom: Throughout history, Jews have faced persecution or discrimination in most parts of the world. Especially in the late 19th century, long-standing hatred against Jews in the Russian Empire exploded in “pograms,” attacks on Jews that led to murders, rapes, and arson against Jewish homes and stores, often encouraged and assisted by the government.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews from across Eastern Europe fled to the United States, Canada, and South America, while others joined the old Jewish community in the Holy Land, then controlled by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, to help reestablish the independent Jewish state the Roman Empire had destroyed almost 2,000 years before.
Hundreds of thousands more Jews moved to Israel in the late 1940s in the aftermath of the Holocaust and after being expelled from Arab countries as a result of the war over Israel’s creation. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled from Israel, and they and their descendants live in neighboring Arab countries.
With the expansion of telecommunications technology that has accompanied globalization, migrants have found it drastically easier to stay connected with the religious community that they left behind in their home country, thus making the decision to move away from home an easier one. In places where this “transnational religion” is promoted through financial institutions, sister congregations, community organizations, telecommunications infrastructure, and governmental tolerance, migration by religiously devout persons has followed. For example, a large Muslim community with strong ties to religious leaders and congregations in Pakistan and Bangladesh has sprung up in Britain; they have used their freedom of religious association to press local authorities for changes in religious rights and education.
Other pull factors include superior medical care or education, family links or simply a personal fondness of a certain place, whether it may be linked to culture, language, weather conditions or other influencing factors.