|Legal status of persons|
Immigration is the movement of people into a country to which they are not native in order to settle there, especially as permanent residents or future citizens. Immigrants are motivated to leave their native countries for a variety of reasons, including a desire for economic prosperity, political issues, family re-unification, escaping conflict or natural disaster, or simply the wish to change one's surroundings. In 2013 the United Nations estimated that there were 231,522,215 immigrants in the world (apx. 3.25% of the global population).
As of 2005[update], the United Nations reported that there were nearly 191 million international immigrants worldwide, about 3 percent of the world population. In 2013 the United Nations estimated that there were 231,522,215 immigrants in the world (apx. 3.25% of the global population). while the number of immigrants increases along with the world's population the proportion of immigrants as part of the world's population remained relatively consistent since 1990. In 2005 60% of immigrants lived in developed countries while the rest lived in developing countries.
The Midwestern United States, some parts of Europe, some small areas of Southwest Asia, and a few spots in the East Indies have the highest percentages of immigrant population recorded by the UN Census 2005. The reliability of immigrant censuses is low due to the concealed character of undocumented labor migration.
A 2012 survey by Gallup found that given the opportunity, 640 million adults would migrate to another country with 23% of these would-be immigrant choosing the United States as their desired future residence, while 7% of respondents, representing 45 million people, would choose the United Kingdom. The other top desired destination countries (those where an estimated 69 million or more adults would like to go) were Canada, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Germany and Spain.
One theory of immigration distinguishes between push and pull factors.
Push factors refer primarily the motive for immigration from the country of origin. In the case of economic migration (usually labor migration), differentials in wage rates are usual. If the value of wages in the new country surpasses the value of wages in one's native country, he or she may choose to migrate as long as the costs are not too high. Particularly in the 19th century, economic expansion of the US increased immigrant flow, and nearly 40% of the population was foreign born (versus today's values of 10%), thus making up a significant amount of the labor force. Poor individuals from less developed countries can have higher standards of living in developed countries than in their originating countries.
As transportation technology improved, travel time and costs decreased dramatically between the 18th and early 20th century. Travel across the Atlantic used to take up to 5 weeks in the 18th century, but around the time of the 20th century it took a mere 8 days. When the opportunity cost is lower, the immigration rates tend to be higher. Escape from poverty (personal or for relatives staying behind) is a traditional push factor, and the availability of jobs is the related pull factor. Natural disasters can amplify poverty-driven migration flows. This kind of migration may be illegal immigration in the destination country.
Emigration and immigration are sometimes mandatory in a contract of employment: religious missionaries and employees of transnational corporations, international non-governmental organizations, and the diplomatic service expect, by definition, to work "overseas". They are often referred to as "expatriates", and their conditions of employment are typically equal to or better than those applying in the host country (for similar work).
For some migrants, education is the primary pull factor (although most international students are not classified as immigrants). Retirement migration from rich countries to lower-cost countries with better climate is a new type of international migration. Examples include immigration of retired British citizens to Spain or Italy and of retired Canadian citizens to the US (mainly to the US states of Florida and Texas).
Non-economic push factors include persecution (religious and otherwise), frequent abuse, bullying, oppression, ethnic cleansing, genocide, risks to civilians during war, and social marginalization. Political motives traditionally motivate refugee flows; for instance, people may emigrate in order to escape a dictatorship.
Some migration is for personal reasons, based on a relationship (e.g. to be with family or a partner), such as in family reunification or transnational marriage (especially in the instance of a gender imbalance). Recent research has found gender, age, and cross-cultural differences in the ownership of the idea to immigrate. In a few cases, an individual may wish to immigrate to a new country in a form of transferred patriotism. Evasion of criminal justice (e.g., avoiding arrest) is a personal motivation. This type of emigration and immigration is not normally legal, if a crime is internationally recognized, although criminals may disguise their identities or find other loopholes to evade detection. For example, there have been cases of those who might be guilty of war crimes disguising themselves as victims of war or conflict and then pursuing asylum in a different country.
Barriers to immigration come not only in legal form or political form; natural and social barriers to immigration can also be very powerful. Immigrants when leaving their country also leave everything familiar: their family, friends, support network, and culture. They also need to liquidate their assets, often at a large loss, and they incur the expense of moving. When they arrive in a new country, this is often with many uncertainties including finding work, where to live, new laws, new cultural norms, language or accent issues, possible racism, and other exclusionary behavior towards them and their family. These barriers act to limit international migration (scenarios where populations move en masse to other continents, creating huge population surges, and their associated strain on infrastructure and services, ignore these inherent limits on migration).
The politics of immigration have become increasingly associated with other issues, such as national security and terrorism, especially in western Europe, with the presence of Islam as a new major religion. Those with security concerns cite the 2005 French riots and point to the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy as examples of the value conflicts arising from immigration of Muslims in Western Europe. Because of all these associations, immigration has become an emotional political issue in many European nations.
Studies have suggested that some special interest groups lobby for less immigration for their own group and more immigration for other groups since they see effects of immigration, such as increased labor competition, as detrimental when affecting their own group but beneficial when impacting other groups. A 2010 European study suggested that "employers are more likely to be pro-immigration than employees, provided that immigrants are thought to compete with employees who are already in the country. Or else, when immigrants are thought to compete with employers rather than employees, employers are more likely to be anti-immigration than employees." A 2011 study examining the voting of US representatives on migration policy suggests that "representatives from more skilled labor abundant districts are more likely to support an open immigration policy towards the unskilled, whereas the opposite is true for representatives from more unskilled labor abundant districts."
Another contributing factor may be lobbying by earlier immigrants. The Chairman for the US Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform—which lobby for more permissive rules for immigrants, as well as special arrangements just for Irish people—has stated that "the Irish Lobby will push for any special arrangement it can get—'as will every other ethnic group in the country.'"
The term economic migrant refers to someone who has travelled from one region to another region for the purposes of seeking employment or an improved financial position. An economic migrant is distinct from someone who is a refugee fleeing persecution.
Many countries have immigration and visa restrictions that prohibit a person entering the country for the purposes of gaining work without a valid work visa. As a violation of a State's immigration laws a person who is declared to be an economic migrant can be refused entry into a country.
The process of allowing immigrants into a particular country is believed to have effects on wages and employment. In particular lower skilled workers are thought to be directly affected by economic migrants, but evidence suggests that this is due to adjustments within industries.
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Treatment of migrants in host countries, both by governments, employers, and original population, is a topic of continual debate and criticism, as many cases of abuse and violation of rights are being reported frequently. Some countries have developed a particularly notorious reputation regarding treatment of migrants. The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, has been ratified but by 20 states, all of which are heavy exporters of cheap labor. With the sole exception of Serbia, none of the signatories are western countries, but all are from Asia, South America, and North Africa. Arab states of the Persian Gulf, which are known for receiving millions of migrant workers, have not signed the treaty as well. Although freedom of movement is often recognized as a civil right in many documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the freedom only applies to movement within national borders: it may be guaranteed by the constitution or by human rights legislation. Additionally, this freedom is often limited to citizens and excludes others.
Proponents of immigration maintain that, according to Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to leave or enter a country, along with movement within it (internal migration), although article 13 actually restricts freedom of movement to "within the borders of each state." Additionally, the UDHR does not mention entry into other countries when it states that "everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." Some argue that the freedom of movement both within and between countries is a basic human right, and that the restrictive immigration policies, typical of nation-states, violate this human right of freedom of movement. Such arguments are common among anti-state ideologies like anarchism and libertarianism. As philosopher and "Open Borders" activist Jacob Appel has written, "Treating human beings differently, simply because they were born on the opposite side of a national boundary, is hard to justify under any mainstream philosophical, religious or ethical theory." However, Article 14 does provide that "everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."
Where immigration is permitted, it is typically selective. As of 2003[update], family reunification accounted for approximately two-thirds of legal immigration to the US every year. Ethnic selection, such as the White Australia policy, has generally disappeared, but priority is usually given to the educated, skilled, and wealthy. Less privileged individuals, including the mass of poor people in low-income countries, cannot avail themselves of the legal and protected immigration opportunities offered by wealthy states. This inequality has also been criticized as conflicting with the principle of equal opportunities, which apply (at least in theory) within democratic nation-states. The fact that the door is closed for the unskilled, while at the same time many developed countries have a huge demand for unskilled labor, is a major factor in illegal immigration. The contradictory nature of this policy—which specifically disadvantages the unskilled immigrants while exploiting their labor—has also been criticized on ethical grounds.
Immigration policies which selectively grant freedom of movement to targeted individuals are intended to produce a net economic gain for the host country. They can also mean net loss for a poor donor country through the loss of the educated minority—the brain drain. This can exacerbate the global inequality in standards of living that provided the motivation for the individual to migrate in the first place. One example of competition for skilled labour is active recruitment of health workers from the Third World by First World countries.
The Cato Institute finds little or no effect of immigration on the income of citizens belonging to established populations. The Brookings Institution finds a 2.3% depression of wages from immigration from 1980 to 2007. The Center for Immigration Studies finds a 3.7% depression wages from immigration from 1980 to 2000. Research indicates that immigrants are more likely to work in risky jobs than U.S.-born workers, partly due to differences in average characteristics, such as immigrants' lower English language ability and educational attainment. Further, some studies indicate that higher ethnic concentration in metropolitan areas is positively related to the probability of self-employment of immigrants.
Toronto's unemployment rate was 6.7% in November 2010, including 19.7% among recent immigrants.
Professional economic advisers suggest that lowering the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States would significantly strengthen its economy. 
Research has found that as immigration and ethnic heterogeneity increase, government funding of welfare and public support for welfare decrease. Ethnic nepotism may be an explanation for this phenomenon. Other possible explanations include theories regarding in-group and out-group effects and reciprocal altruism.
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