Social Marginalization in U.S.-Bound Migration from Mexico and France-Bound Migration from North Africa Essays

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Social Marginalization in U.S.-Bound Migration from Mexico and France-Bound Migration from North Africa

Nicholas Spurgeon

Transnational Migration
Dr. David Sandell
May 7, 2013

Migration has played a key role in the human experience from time immemorial. The need for populations to move to secure subsistence began with the simple search for edible food stuffs and evolved through our varying interactions to the present day model. Scavenging for plants, edible tubers and berries, and the occasional animal carcass were replaced by hunting, agriculture, and lastly our monetary system. The search for systems to feed ourselves and our progeny led humans to populate every continent and conquer every possible earthly landscape. As we have evolved some populations have settled down to occupy particularly hospitable regions and over time claims of ownership have been staked and access to different areas has been restricted through physical force and the rule of law. These actions conflict with the ancient compulsion to move in search of sustenance. This conflict has given rise to discussions on how responsible one group of humans is both to and for another. In the present day, these discussions are further complicated by boundaries established by groups acting as nations and groups of nations acting under supranational agreements. While most people acknowledge that they are responsible for others, it is difficult to judge to what degree this responsibility extends. The United States of America and France are two countries whose foundational documents state the freedoms of all humanity and work, however imperfectly, to uphold these tenets for all. They are also two major destinations for migratory populations. Some of these migrations are done according to the laws and customs established by each individual nation-state, alternatively, much is also done despite them. The importance of citizenship and nationality has risen in the midst of this situation. In the case of the United States and France this migration is mainly from countries that were or are colonies. In the case of France the countries were actual former colonies governed after military take over. The United States on the other hand exercised economic colonialism over Mexico, through various agreements culminating in NAFTA, while never having express political power. This colonial situation established conditions which dictated migration from the colonies to the nation-states who administered to them. Those who migrated have had to deal with hardships throughout their journey but social marginalization is the most prevalent in their combined experiences and is likewise the one that could be most directly addressed by the citizens of the host country. Being French has many different meaning depending upon who you are addressing. For some it brings with it a sense of change, while others feel a nationalist surge of pride in their country and where they were born. For a growing minority it brings nativist feelings of intrusion and threat. The government of France has tried to appease all of these groups and maintain the French Republican ideals it is based upon. The largest and most visible group that immigrates to France most is from North Africa specifically Morocco, Tunis, and Algeria. Most of them immigrated looking for work and followed patterns established years ago during the time when these countries were colonies of France. The main perception of these immigrants was that they were temporary. They would journey to France, work hard and save their money, and then travel back to their country of origin. The public’s perception began to change when the government began using tax money to build more permanent housing for the immigrants, whether documented or not, and eventually stopped immigration altogether with the caveat that immigrants could bring their families to join them. The image of the bachelor, transient laborer