14 Dec 2011

False Perceptions Fuel Anti-Migrant Sentiments

The rising tide of anti-migrant sentiment worldwide is caused primarily by the biased, polarised and negative debate on migration, according to a new study released. In its latest World Migration Report released Tuesday, the Geneva- based International Organization for Migration (IOM) said people in destination countries tend to significantly overestimate the size of the migrant population, sometimes by as much as 300 percent.


As an example, the report points out that the actual percentage of migrants in Italy was around 7.0 percent in 2010. Yet polls showed that the population - rather erroneously - perceived this percentage to be around a staggering 25 percent. Similarly, in the United States, some public opinion polls showed that in 2010, the public believed the percentage of migrants in the population was at 39 percent, a far cry from an actual 14 percent. 

The report points out that "distorted communication about migration contributes to widespread anti-migrant sentiments, which have recently resurfaced in many parts of the world." Harmful stereotypes, discrimination and even xenophobia have reappeared in societies of destination, resulting in controversy on the value of multiculturalism.