Cómo manejar la crisis global de migración

Hoy en día, los debates sobre la migración tienden a concentrarse en el impacto que ejercen los recién llegados sobre la cohesión social. Quienes abogan por una política de mayor apertura sostienen que las poblaciones están envejeciendo y las fuerzas de trabajo están disminuyendo, por lo que se requiere de una mayor inmigración para mantener estándares de vida altos. Sus oponentes se enfocan en los efectos destructivos de la migración, en especial sobre los ciudadanos más vulnerables en países que ya padecen altas tasas de desempleo. No obstante, lo que se necesita es un visión más profunda y global que la de cualquiera de estos dos bandos.

Entre 1800 y 1950, la población de Europa creció en un 269%, de 203 millones a 547 millones de habitantes, a medida que el continente experimentó extraordinarios cambios económicos, convulsiones sociales y desórdenes políticos. La emigración de Europa representó una válvula de seguridad crítica para el continente, sin la cual la presión sobre las poblaciones y los Estados habría sido insostenible.

Durante esos 150 años, los europeos emigraron en masa a América Latina, elevando su población en 50 millones de personas, a América del Norte, que experimentó un aumento de 75 millones, y a Oceanía, donde la población creció en 11 millones. El excedente de población rural podía encontrar tierras para labrar en las vastas fronteras del Nuevo Mundo, o empleos industriales en sus crecientes ciudades. Los más aventurados y ambiciosos podían buscar fama y fortuna en las colonias de Africa y Asia.

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