Accepted Paper:

Workers or People? Lessons from Migration Policy in East Asia and North America  


David Haines (George Mason University)

Paper short abstract:

Assessment of differences and convergences in East Asian versus North American migration policy. Emphasis on implications of the debate about migrants as workers versus migrants as full social participants.

Paper long abstract:

Perhaps the greatest dilemma in contemporary migration policy involves how states articulate the need for migrants as workers versus the need to incorporate those workers as full social participants. Do migrants merely address current economic needs or are they to be part of the building of societal futures? Over the last few decades, this dilemma has played out in different ways in North America and East Asia. North America, long accustomed to including foreigners as permanent settlers, has seemed to shift toward a greater interest in foreign temporary workers, sometimes legal but often undocumented. East Asia, by contrast, has tended to meet its labor needs with massive internal migration from rural areas, but is now experiencing increasing foreign labor as well. Governments in East Asia have thus begun to consider ways in which foreigners might, like traditional North American immigrants, become more fully participating members of their societies. This paper considers the traditional differences and recent convergences in migration policy between the two regions and suggest ways in which a more integrated delineation of migrants as workers and migrants as people might be constructed, thus bringing the world of migration policy more in alignment with the anthropological understanding of the holistic nature of human migration and mobility.

Panel MMM16
Human resource and mobility: a comparative study between north America and east Asia (IUAES Commission on Enterprise Anthropology)