Check the “Last word” on the last page of this week’s double issue of Newsweek

According to Peter Sutherland, Some reasons to hope we won’t close our doors too tight, simply because we need immigration…Here are some exerpts of his interview by William Underhill:

You have been a great champion of migration and the economic benefits that it can bring. Aren ‘ t such ideas going to be a much harder sell in the next few years?
The reality is that, even allowing for increasing unemployment in the immediate future, we still need more people, in Europe in particular. (…)

Those are powerful arguments, but as you have said, politicians, like voters, are swayed by ideas of ” them and us ” when dealing with immigration.
I think one can be more positive about politicians than many people are. If you compare today’s politicians with those of 20 years ago, there is a much lower acceptability for what might be described as racist or anti-immigrant views. Put another way, there is a much broader acceptance of multicultural societies (…)

Is it possible to argue that the case for immigration is strengthened at a time of economic downturn?
It is counterintuitive at a time of rising unemployment to see immigration as an opportunity rather than a threat, but I think that is actually true.

What hope does the election of Barack Obama bring?
I would not like to give the impression that President Bush had a completely closed mind on these issues: he didn’t. But I imagine that President Obama is the greatest example of immigrant success that one could find anywhere, and that’s a great tribute to the American people. Hopefully the United States, which is so important in terms of leadership on other issues, will also play a constructive leadership role on this one. The U.S., by definition, is heterogeneous. It is not like other societies that still harbor the illusion that they are homogeneous. They are not: you only have to look at their DNA.
Underhill, W. (2009). The Melting of the Melting Pot? Newsweek.