Updated: Mar 24, 2021
Quite often, when discussing the rights of immigrants to exist, people will point out their contributions to the country to which they immigrate. They will say “you dislike immigrants but they pick your vegetables, send your people to the moon, clean your homes” and so on. This is a natural rebuttal to people who argue that immigrants are a burden on a country. How could an immigrant be a burden when they do in fact contribute something to a new society?
However, this also leads to viewing immigrants as “valid” because of the fact that they add to their society. Essentially, immigrants are acceptable in a society be cause they “work hard” or “pull their own weight.” This is reflective of a broader view that judges the worth of a person based on their ability to work.
There is another tendency to look at immigrants as innocents that need saving from oppressive regimes. To an extent, sure. Sympathy is important. But that creates a narrative of immigrants as a monolith, infantilizes them, and ultimately leads to an unwillingness to acknowledge their individual agency. It glorifies western, developed countries as saviors and safe havens for immigrants and allows us to gloss over the less-than-favorable aspects of immigration system.
I would argue, although biased, that even if an immigrant does no work, even if an immigrant does not need the “help” of a “free” western state, immigrants are still worth taking in.
Some people move because they genuinely need to escape an oppressive government. Some people immigrate because they need a change of pace. Some people move because they want to work. Some people move because they want to work in a different manner. So what?
Human movement is as natural as breathing. As a species we evolved and survived because we were able to move beyond the places we originated from. Diversity of background and thought is largely beneficial to all humans, it makes it easier to come up with more representative solutions. At the end of the day, does it really matter why an immigrant left their country? Does it really matter if they "contribute” tangible things to a country.” Their desire to be there, and their contribution of difference is enough to justify immigration, not that anyone should have to. At the end of the day, borders and governments can change. The only thing that does not change is that human beings fundamentally need to cooperate to thrive in the world, and frankly, the more people doing so the better.