There are far more international migrants in the world today than ever previously recorded – 214 million according to UN DESA (2009) – and their number has increased rapidly over the last few decades, up from 191 million in 2005. If the migrant population continues to increase at the same pace as the last 20 years, the stock of international migrants worldwide by 2050 could be as high as 405 million. At the same time, internal migrants account for 740 million migrants (UNDP, 2009) bringing the total number of migrants to just under 1 billion worldwide today.
The report also notes that the overall composition of migrants is changing:
International migration involves a wider diversity of ethnic and cultural groups than ever before. Significantly more women are migrating today on their own or as heads of households; the number of people living and working abroad with irregular status continues to rise; and there has been a significant growth in temporary and circular migration.
These changes are not without consequences in Switzerland itself, where about 20 percent of the population is foreign-born. Voters in Switzerland have just approved a referendum that would automatically expel any foreigner convicted of a serious crime, instead of leaving it up to a judge to make a decision on a case-by-case basis. Earlier this year, Swiss voters approved a referendum that banned minarets in the country.