A Migrant Advisory (Of Sorts)

Information sheets that instruct people on the move who plan to become illegal migrants abound. They divulge useful knowledge such as where to cross borders, which routes to follow, what to tell case workers, and what kind of benefits to ask for. Daring governments that ignore the dictate of PC, resent the NGO-driven coaching about how to sneak and cheat.

What follows here also advises migrants although it can be taken for granted that these will never come to see this “how to” advisory. Even so, the settled should also feel addressed. Being an experienced “retired” migrant, the writer hopes that his effort might help to approach a general problem rationally.

Dear Friend,

If you consider to leave wherever you belong, begin by determining the reason for departing. Do you -as you will claim- really “have to” go? If you just want a change, assess what you know about the place that attracts you. Should you think that on your turf achieving success is too hard, then wise up to a fact. Wherever you want to go, your dream will not be offered on a silver platter but on top of a tall pole to climb. Everywhere you go, the term “hard” will be apply to everything beyond alms.

If you conclude that you need to leave because the system at home prevents you from accomplishing your goals, you need to determine why that is. Again, “difficult” is part of a bad answer. So, if you are forced to leave, assess what the terms are that makes life for you senseless where you were born. What are the policies, the conventions that regulate the social order, the formal and informal restrictions you resent? Is it that you dislike rules in general? If so, realize that wherever you land, there will be laws, regulations, and customs to which you will be expected to submit. Some of these might appear to you as arbitrary or even repressive, although the success of the community you pick might be a consequence of having accepted these rules.

You might think that as a man you have certain rights. A right to rebel against what your host community demands that you respect is not one of them. It will help in this process of adjustment if you recall what you have abandoned and why. In case you conclude that back home the order was more human, reasonable, and natural, then turn around and go back.

One right you do not have. That is to live in your chosen place of refuge according to the ways of your place of birth. This is especially true in case that you accept support to facilitate the successful start of your new life. Do you suppose, that if your home’s system would have made the move with you, the natives would have the means to support, train, house you, and provide medical services?

In case that you voice dissatisfaction with your treatment and the terms imposed by those that harbor you, then you will be supported by organizations that are critical of the prevailing system. This succor by dissident elites will strengthen your position and justify your stance. Undoubtably, this will make you feel good. Nevertheless, you should, in your rebellion against the society you have managed to join, keep in mind something that remains true even if only few dare to say it. No one has asked you to come. You were not needed by those that took you in. You entered by requesting permission, and it was the locals that provided a place for you. Doing so was no obligation but a gracious favor. Yes, you have a right to be critical, but you remain under an obligation to make yourself fit in. That duty is fulfilled by your adjustment and not by demanding that “they” conform to your ways. You are a beneficiary of the tolerance of your host county, so try to respond by tolerating it. First and foremost, do not let the impression arise that your settlement is part of a peaceful conquest of the land that allowed you in.

In case that you conclude that here everything is wrong, and that back home much has been superior, then you provoke a question you should raise on your own. Why do you not return to where you came from? Your efforts to change your adopted country is predestined to fail. The women will remain, as you might assert, imperfect, the striving of the people around you senseless, the haste at work demeaning, the man-made laws devoid of a moral foundation, and the political order chaotic. If you think along these lines, you might also feel that the success of the locals is not worth having because it expresses the materialism of a culture without the moral foundation you espouse. This might be behind the “avarice” which the limited aid you get confirms. Let us assume that these charges are valid. Regardless of that, in case you hold this view, it is an ethical imperative to deprive your hosts of your presence and to rejoin the fold of the like-minded.

The perfect society, the immaculate human order, does not exist. Accordingly, the new home you were allowed to choose will have faults. As you discover these failings, do not lose sight of the fact that the disparaged ways of the indigenous brought about a successful society that can afford to help you. The local culture, subjective as its components might be, has raised the material and cultural level of those that live by its canon above the system’s you have elected to abandon. This means that the way of the locals deserves respect because “it works” for those that accept the culture and its vision. It should cross your mind that, possibly, some of the values you hold as self-evident, might have something to do with bringing about the conditions that made you to leave your home.

Do not take the foregoing as a nudge to conform and to submit uncritically and to abandon your judgment. It is your right and you should exercise it. What you do not have a right to, is to refer to some principle that you interpret as a moral command to argue that your hosting civilization must conform to your expectations. Things function in the new home you have chosen as an alternative to what prevails “at home”. The only legitimate personal course for you is to conform to your new country so that you are enabled to become a constructive participant of the process that makes its system churn. By remaining “in opposition” and by loudly invoking ways that have failed you in the past, might be your opinion, but it will ultimately harm you.

Depicting yourself as a victim of past and current wrongs might secure you the advantages derived from official “victim status”. Being a “professional victim” can bring some advantages. Be aware that these might seem to be lucrative but that they will remain hand-outs. Their consequence is that you will have never really arrived. That will deprive you from achieving what is respected among those in whose midst you have chosen to live.

It is difficult to find a healthy balance between your individuality and the requirements of genuine membership in the society you have chosen. Your past experience and your language are indelible parts of what you are. Yet you must realize that, if your emigration is to make sense beyond earning donations, an approach must be found that allows you to be a functioning and respected component of your new surroundings.

Striking this balance might demand that you come to terms with an idea that might trouble you. A life has ended when you left home. Entering a new society amounts to being re-born. You will be successful to the extent that you have the strength to separate from what you were. With that done, you need to gain a new perspective, learn a new language, acquire new knowledge, learn to like new foods, live by new values, and internalize new customs.

You can find support in case that you reject the vision whose pursuit drives your new surroundings. Having been, or claiming to be a victim earlier, will be tempting because, even if irrelevant, it induces support. However, the price of free lunches is high. Money given for failing produces more failure because whatever pays will be practiced. In your case, this mechanism will keep you an outsider forever. That will embitter you and your hostility will be matched by the provoked rejection of the indigenous around you.
In case you feel that you stand alone in opposition because the natives are unwilling to join you, you are refusing to integrate. In practice, that does not have to mean complete isolation. If you are part of a category of people with a common denominator that resist the mainstream, you might find each other. In that case you will form a parallel society. A number of countries have such immunized sub-groups. Experience shows that the isolation of a group has the same consequences as does individual self-segregation. If you let yourself pulled in by such an association you will be locked in -and locked out of normal life.

Misery might seek company, yet a tribe united by its rejection of the rest of society is likely to generate more misery. Choosing organized separation has its attractions. It assures one of the company of brothers. A common language and religion, and a shared system of values and customs, will provide a harbor where success and failure, approval and disapproval, are determined by shared standards. Voluntary ghettoization implies segregation. It works like an umbrella; the drops are kept away but the rain will nevertheless continue to pour until after the holding arm tires.

Participating in an organized group of the underprivileged helps to raise demands and might induce wealthy societies to extend symptomatic relief. Nominally that will be done to help the group’s members to overcome their condition. In actual fact, it is to buy compliance -often in exchange of political support. The upshot is likely to be that, since membership pays, the leaders of the subsociety will benefit from their management of the problem. Thereby, the condition causing misery to many will become the foundation of a lucrative way of life for some and as such, become permanent.

The parallel societies of the self-ostracized can do more than to give moral support and to reassure its insiders that their way of life is “normal”. Also, whether with reason or as an excuse, all personal and collective failures will be attributed to the majority’s malevolence, expressed by systemic disadvantages. It responds to a natural craving we have as social animals to seek the company of our kind, and to attribute our short-comings to outsiders. If this applies to you, you might be stepping into a feel-good trap of your own making. Never in history have achievers with minority roots been more warmly welcome than today. This is expressed by the strategies that facilitate the acquisition of skills of performing minorities regardless of whether indigenous or immigrated.

Special zones in which the minority is the majority, have a bad record. There will be a price to pay, if those that wish to live by pre-modern standards under their own informal laws and in the bubble of their own language, separate from the successful majority. Those that try to shut out the world are, in effect, excluded by it. They will have trouble communicating, comprehending how the “outside” functions, remain less educated and trained, and they will be locked into low-skill jobs that are disappearing. Quite likely, such a special zone will be run by shady elements that operate a shadow government that exploits the territory it controls.

If the process of separation can convert the “autonomous zone” into a “no-go” area, the misfortune of those locked into it will be augmented. Yes, “their” laws will not be applied. You will even be given the impression that your kind governs to the extent that the modern state’s presence is limited. This comes at a price. Conditions will be created that might suggest “autonomy”. In this case, however, the term will not mean “freedom” for all but license for a few. Located beyond the laws of the land, the impartial law will be preempted by the will of the strongest. The police might not be present, but the Boss’ merciless thugs, to whom no life matters, will be.

Not accidentally, successful societies, having overcome arbitrary government and material want, share certain traits that are the foundation of accomplishment. A sample: respect for legitimate laws, predictable and orderly enforcement of ordinances, the intent to apply regulations equally, government by consensus, education for all, limited state power, the protection of legally acquired property, the enforcement of contracts, and punctuality. What connects these features with advancement? The consequences of the actions that individuals take are predictable, there is security, therefore the future is plannable, and the fruits of striving are guaranteed to benefit their creator. If you are able to understand the uses of the order into which your migration has catapulted you, you will be enabled to participate in the process through which societal interaction generates a good life. The frequent success of innovative immigrants confirms the allegation.

“Order” is, probably contradicting your hither experience, not an “enemy” but a scale to ascent. You will need to start on the lower end but your climb points upward. Do not take a humble start as a sign of discrimination even if that ignores your status in the “old country”. Having to perform would only be discriminatory if the way up would be blocked. Needing to prove yourself through your societal contribution is a reasonable requirement. Being allowed to compete according to your ability is freedom. You need to use it.

Finding an economic niche can lead to the picking of a seemingly easy road that leads off the main path. Migrants who can rely on a large community of resident brothers might be tempted -as a reflection of conditions at home- to choose illegal activities to make their way. As a misunderstood reflection on freedom, the risks appear to be minimal as the natives can seem to be naïve, and the co- nationals are in control of a lucrative activity, such as drugs, prostitution or the protection racket. Alas, having entered the country illegally might eliminate the choice of less adventurous alternatives.

The personal consequences can be dire. Once the wrong path is taken, the normal path to rise is blocked. The natives are seldom as naïve as thought, and freedom proves ultimately to be an effective, admittedly slow-moving, order. Innocent immigrants of good standing are the main victims when, inevitably, crime becomes associated with an identifiable segment of the residents. Regrettably, the traits of a collective are generally, and with lasting effect, associated with the anti-social activities of a few representatives. Therefore, as individuals and groups, those fare best that do not blindly support lawlessness just because it comes from “our boys”. They apply pressure to preclude violations and enforce and reward success-oriented strategies. When more recognition is given to a new diploma than for owning a new fancy car, the group is on the right track.

This lengthy, but nevertheless only partial list, might appear as a sermon. What is to be avoided and what needs to be practiced makes for a long list and might, if perceived as a litany, be taxing to digest. Migration demands that choices be made that are crucial and tough in their consequence. Facing the trying arduous challenge is helped by only one factor: It is worth it.
Illegal immigrants by N/A is licensed under Flickr US Government