If we adjust the numbers as a percentage of the total population, it turns out migration worldwide has actually remained pretty much at the same level for the past five decades. And what’s that magic number? Around 2 to 3 percent, according to Determinants of International Migration, a research group at the International Migration Institute at Oxford.Of course, she correctly points out that there are two key differences in what's going on right now: (1) the Syrian refugees represent a huge population in need--although there have been a lot of very large refugee movements over the past several decades; but importantly (2) people are trying to get into Europe, instead of getting out of it. Europe has been a source of emigration, not a host to immigrants, for most of the past two hundred years. Europeans are now experiencing the xenophobia that comes with the territory of having strangers move into their midst.
So from a Western-centric view, it’s easy to assume migration is increasing, when what’s actually happening is the profile of the migrant has changed.And, on a day when anti-immigrant Donald Trump is leading in several more GOP primaries in the US, it is important to remember that migration has been a fact of life among humans for thousands of years. We need to get used to it.