Immigration is a very sensitive issue in various parts of the world and often time it becomes a political tool at election time. In the US it has been a prominent item on the agenda of politicians, the media, non-governmental organisations and the general public for quite a while. Most of the immigrants into the US are from Latin America and Hispanics now make up a larger part of the population than African-Americans. The effect of this is that Spanish is now basically the second language of the US- much to the chagrin of those who see America as an Anglo/European country.
I came across this feature on the BBC where a team is going to go across the southern USA from San Augustin, Florida to Los Angeles, California with the sole aim of speaking only Spanish throughout the journey. The team will have a daily blog, photos of the trip on Flickr and a group on Facebook and I think it will be interesting to follow their experiences.
The topic of immigration is also very popular in Barbados with many Bajans uncomfortable with the influx of Guyanese. I stumbled upon this article in the Guyana Chronicle which makes some important points about the cyclical nature of the movement of people and the large numbers of Barbadians who previously moved to Guyana in search of jobs. The critical point the article fails to mention is related to size, capacity and sustainability. Barbados is a tiny, overpopulated island with scarce limited physical resources including most importantly water and land. Guyana on the other hand is a vast under populated country with immense physical resources and can fit little Barbados on one of its rivers furthermore its land mass.
The debate over immigration inevitably degenerates into emotional diatribe and fear mongering and race become a central part of the arguments. While this must be resisted, practical realities such as scarce resources and abrupt social and cultural changes must be acknowledged and addressed in a sensible manner. A failure to tackle these concerns of the native population can provide convenient fodder for racists and right wingers and can have serious consequences.