[Stop-traffic] Book: Smuggling humans the new trade, BUSINESS TIMES

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Book: Smuggling humans the new trade, BUSINESS TIMES
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Jan 10 2001 - 08:33:09 EST

                  Smuggling humans the new trade, BUSINESS TIMES

APwo 21/Dec/00 8:47 PM

Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The information contained in this news report may not be published,
broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of
the Associated Press.

       THE migration of people with the hopes of securing better jobs and
improving their living conditions had resulted in the emergence of a
commercial "migration industry", says a book published by the International
Labour Organisation (ILO) secretariat.
       This industry, according to the book entitled "Workers without
Frontiers-The Impact of Globalization on International Migration", involves
helping migrants, for a fee, to secure visas, transportation and
       Mr Peter Stalker, the author of the book, said migration has also
spurred the growth of illegal trafficking.
       "In Europe in 1993 some 15-30 per cent of undocumented immigrants
were thought to have used the services of traffickers," he was quoted as
saying in a press release posted on the ILO website.
       As an enterprise, Stalker said trafficking humans is highly
       Smuggling a person by car across an Eastern European border or by
boat from Morocco to Spain might cost US$500 (US$1 RM3.80), but a
sophisticated travel package for an undocumented migrant from China to the
US can cost up to US$30,000. Stalker cited a study which estimated
that the trafficking of undocumented migrants brings in between US$5
billion and US$7 billion per year.
       And with the illegal flow of workers, a large market for forged
documents has emerged.
       Bangkok has "developed into a major production centre" for forged
documents, mainly Korean and Japanese passports-worth about US$2,000 a
piece-used by Chinese emigrants to travel to other parts of the world, he
       "Many people also lubricate the flow of migrants by offering
financing", Stalker noted.
       Some are long-term loans to be paid off over years and some cater to
short-term financing.
       He said Bolivian peasants who wish to enter Argentina as tourists
must show immigration officials the equivalent of US$1,500 in spending
       This, said Stalker "has created a new form of financial intermediary,
demanding what must be a world record interest rate".
       "For the hour or so it takes to cross the border, bus companies and
others will lend migrants the necessary cash-for a 10 per cent fee," he
       Stalker also outlined the "pull and push" factors for migration.
       According to him, the flow of goods and capital between rich and poor
countries will not be large enough to offset the needs for employment in
poorer countries.
       Instead, social disruption caused by economic restructuring is likely
to displace people and encourage them to look for work abroad.
       The total number of migrants around the world now exceeds 120
million, up from 75 million in 1965 and is still growing.
       "In a world of winners and losers, the losers do not simply
disappear, they seek somewhere else to go," Stalker said.
       He said the ability to find good jobs and earn much higher pay are
the prime reasons for people to migrate.
       For instance, Indonesian labourers earned US$0.28 per day in their
country in 1997 compared with US$2 or more per day in Malaysia.
       According to a study quoted by Stalker, it has been found that in
1995, hourly labour costs in manufacturing stood at US$0.25 in India and
China, US$0.46 in Thailand, US$0.60 in Russia, US$1.70 in Hungary and
US$2.09 in Poland against US$13.77 in the UK, US$14.40 in Australia,
US$16.03 in Canada, US$17.20 in the US, US$19.34 in France, US$23.66 in
Japan and US$31.88 in Germany.
       He also found that falling prices for transportation and the
increased speed of communication have changed the character of
international migration, making it much less a permanent move.
       By 1990, air transport costs per mile had dropped to 20 per cent of
their 1930 level. Between 1930 and 1996, the cost of a three-minute
telephone conversation between London and New York fell from US$300 to
       "These changes have made departures to unknown lands less daunting
and traumatic.
       "Migration flows, as a result, have become more complex and diverse,"
he noted.
       Stalker pointed out that migration flows are "distorted by social and
political pressures as host communities become more resistant to new
       A more realistic indicator of the potential for migration, he said,
is the difference in wage rates for occupations that are open to
       In the US, the sector in which the share of immigrants is highest is
       "In Belgium and the Netherlands, it is the extraction and processing
of minerals; in Denmark, Germany, Australia and Canada, it is
manufacturing; in France and Luxembourg, it is construction and civil
engineering; in the United Kingdom, it is services," he added.
       According to Stalker, when a free and rapid exchange of information
across national borders exists, such as between Mexico and the US, migrant
workers can be very sensitive to changes in the labour market.
       A US study by the Public Policy Institute of California found that
when California's economy boomed in the mid to late 1980s, the state
experienced brisk job growth and undocumented immigration peaked.
       On the other hand, when California suffered from a severe recession
in the early 1990s, undocumented immigration fell.
       Migration is also affected by conditions in the sending country,
where one study found that a 10 per cent decrease in real wages in Mexico
is associated with an 8 per cent increase in apprehensions of undocumented
workers at the border.
       In the US, it has been found that the jobs held by recent immigrants
are significantly more exposed to foreign competition than those held by
the locals.
       Mexican immigrants, he said, are over-represented in economic sectors
such as agriculture and garment manufacturings "that are at greatest risk
from import penetration".
       In Western Europe, Germany acted as a magnet in the years following
the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Between 1988 and 1994, net immigration
into both parts of Germany totalled 4 million, of whom 2 million were
ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union.
       Across the Persian Gulf, the oil price rise after 1973 triggered an
explosion in the demand for labour, particularly in the construction
       Between 1975 and 1990, the number of immigrants in the seven States
of the Gulf Cooperation Council, rose from 1.1 million to 5.2 million,
representing 68 per cent of the labour force.
       On the other side of the globe, countries of the next generation of
newly industrialised countries (NIE), such as Thailand and Malaysia, are
both sources and destinations for migrant workers.
       In 1997, prior to the economic crisis, Thailand was host to 600,000
migrants, but also had 372,000 Thai workers spread across Asia.
       Indonesia exports unskilled labour to West Asia, Malaysia and
Singapore and imports skilled workers, mostly from India and the
       "By the middle of 1997, there were thought to be over 6.5 million
foreign workers in seven Asian countries or areas: Japan, the Republic of
Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan," Stalker said.
       In a number of Asian countries, the majority of emigrants today are
women, generally working as domestic servants in the West Asia, Singapore
and Hong Kong.
       This is the case for 69 per cent of migrants from Sri Lanka, 65 per
cent from Indonesia and 55 per cent from Thailand.
       In Japan, labour shortages became so acute in the late 1980s that
numerous immigrants were allowed in temporarily, on short-term contracts.
       The number of registered foreign residents ballooned as a result,
reaching 1.36 million in 1995-nearly 1.1 per cent of the population. It has
also been said that some 300,000 persons who entered the country as
tourists had overstayed their visas.
       Stalker observed that the NIE of Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea
and Taiwan have all attracted large contingents of unskilled workers even
as they try to control the inflow.
       Singapore has the tightest system, imposing severe sanctions on
employers of illegal immigrants.
       "But even here," he said, "there are reports of increasing numbers of
undocumented workers".

    Copyright 2000 BUSINESS TIMES all rights reserved as distributed by
WorldSources, Inc.

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