14 leave permanently to the US every day
… figure does not include migration to Canada, UK, Caribbean, Suriname
The United States embassy yesterday released information that shows that more than 20,000 Guyanese were issued immigrant visas since 2006.
The outgoing Charge d’Affaires Karen Williams has since said that there has not been a dramatic increase or decrease in applications since then.
Ms Williams is scheduled to depart Guyana today after serving for two and half years here. USAID country director Carol Horning will take up the post of Charge d’Affaires. She will continue until she is replaced by Tom Pierre.
Ms Williams released the migration figures after a round-table discussion with the media at the US Embassy in Georgetown.
In 2006, the embassy issued 5135 immigrant visas, amounting to an average of 14 every day, including Sundays and holidays. In 2007 the number dropped to 3059. The following year, 2008, there were 4836 immigrant visas while in 2009, a slightly lower number, 4586, immigrant visas were issued.
For this year, 2624 immigrant visas have been issued so far. All told, the legal migration rate is about 13 per day- for each day of the year.
This figure does not include legal migration to Canada, Suriname, the Caribbean and elsewhere. It also does not include the granting of non-immigrant visas which some people use to migrate.
The migration of well-educated and trained nationals from Guyana and the Caribbean and other developing countries has been an ongoing phenomenon, and something Governments have been unable to control.
However, former Jamaican Prime Minister Percival J. Patterson is heading a Commission that will make specific recommendations to assist small states and less developed countries which have suffered excessive out-migration of expensively trained persons, and are yet to benefit significantly from return migration or diasporic investment.
‘The Ramphal Commission on Migration and Development in the Caribbean is the first initiative of the Ramphal Centre, an independent think tank launched in 2008 to mark the 80th birthday of Sir Shridath Ramphal, one of the most distinguished international sons of the Caribbean.
Patterson has said that in some places the brain drain of skilled people, such as nurses, teachers and scientists may damage development by depriving public services or key industries of the expensively trained human capital they need.
The perceptions about migration are mixed and one of the tasks of this commission is to highlight the positive aspects of international migration, and these include the improvement of the lives and incomes of migrants moving from developing countries and the boost to development by remittances sent back to countries or origin.
At the same time, the Commission will look at the negative aspects such as the brain drain of skilled people from developing countries as well as the fact that illegal and undocumented migration can reduce a government’s ability to regulate its economy and manage public finances and services.
Patterson said that the Commonwealth is best placed to develop and implement practical and mutually beneficial policies which can in turn be recommended to the international community as a whole.
But before this can happen the Commonwealth has to deal with the obvious shortcomings in current government policies.
Patterson said that the Commission’s conviction is that policy makers do not have a clear understanding of what good migration would look like. Little is known about how best to promote return migration, encourage Diaspora interaction or balance border security concerns with a need to attract migrants required by receiving countries’ economies.
And most importantly, Patterson said, there is a lack of political will to look beyond immediate short-term impacts in destination countries, rather than migration’s effects on the countries of origin and the future impact of climate change.
The Commission has been tasked by the Ramphal Centre in London to develop practical policies in the important field of migration and development, initially for Commonwealth countries to take forward into action.