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Migration Fact vs. Migration Fiction

Because migration affects economies and societies worldwide, it rightly belongs at the center of political debate. But public opinion on this crucial topic tends to be shaped by emotions, rather than facts.

LONDON – Migration continues to dominate political debate in many countries. Rightly so: the issue affects economies and societies worldwide. But public opinion on this crucial topic tends to be shaped by emotions, rather than facts. The result is a lack of open and effective dialogue about migration’s risks – or its many benefits.

Populist leaders, in particular, have been eager to manipulate the migration debate, using inflated figures and other gross exaggerations to stoke popular fears. Such incendiary rhetoric directly hurts immigrants, even those who have long lived in their new country. In the United Kingdom, reported hate crimes against immigrants surged 42% year on year in the run-up to and aftermath of June’s Brexit referendum.

But the impact of anti-immigrant sentiment extends far beyond national borders. If populist fear-mongering drives their countries to embrace exclusionary, protectionist policies, the effect on the global economy – and the livelihoods of millions of people around the world – would be disastrous.

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