One of the reasons I think immigration is a really important issue right now is because of the increase of refugee movements due to failed states (many of them failing in no small measure to the actions of developed Western countries). Case in point: Iraq – my country’s very own little disaster.

Alternet reports that one in every six Iraqis is now either a refugee in another country or an internally displaced person (IDP), 4.5 to 5 million total. As Michael Schwartz pointed out, if a similar displacement happened in the US, it would be the equivalent of 50 million Americans fleeing their homes, and often the country.

Schwartz quotes an Iraqi blogger on the reasons for the flight (and specifically, the brain drain).

Why? Simple: 1. There is no real job market in Iraq. 2. Even if you have a good job, chances are good you’ll get kidnapped or killed. It’s just not worth it staying here. Sunni, Shiite, or Christian — everybody, we’re all leaving, or have already left. One of my friends keeps berating me about how I should love this country, the land of my ancestors, where I was born and raised; how I should be grateful and return to the place that gave me everything. I always tell him the same thing: ‘Iraq, as you and me once knew it, is lost. What’s left of it, I don’t want …’

One of the arguments I haven’t gotten into much is a straight forward moral argument for freer migration. Many people feel that they have no obligation to let others in; if their country is a disaster, it’s their fault for not building a better country, let them stay home and work on some democracy-building. (I really do hear this from people). I think the Iraq example, (and many more I hope to get into) will help blow that idea apart, as it shows starkly just how many of these states fail, either wholly or in part, because of the actions of the first-world, developed, “civilized” nations that then refuse to admit their refugees.

I think that most Americans with a conscience, if they knew of the extent of the refugee crisis (all too rarely reported in the media) would agree that it should be a moral priority for our nation to do a lot better than admitting less than 2000 refugees from Iraq in 2007, when that refugee crisis is currently the largest on the planet, and absolutely, 100%, undeniably, our government’s fault.