Anti Immigration Or Nativism – Various Causes

Anti immigration or ‘nativism’ as it is often called, simply means that certain people or inhabitants in a group are given more preference in comparison to outsiders and newcomers. Nativism is actually the opposite of immigration and takes place due to various national, political, cultural or religious reasons. It is also a form of racism, where quite often insecurities and anger may result in violent incidents by one group against another. Nativism is present in the history of many countries and this phenomenon exists even today in nations like Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand.

Causes of Nativism

Why does nativism exist even today and what are the few causes behind it? Most incidents involving nativism are due to one of these reasons or due to a combination of factors:

  1. Cultural or Racial – This occurs when people may have a number of fears and anxieties about visible differences in terms of race, culture, religious beliefs and even language. Such people may feel that strength lies in numbers and that the influx of foreigners can cause the degeneration of society itself. For instance, in the recent past, there have been many surprise violent attacks on Indians working in Australia, where cultural differences and racism were cited as the main reasons behind them.
  2. Economic – Immigrants coming into a country may result in the loss of security for the original inhabitants or even a loss of status. This usually happens because immigrants are willing to work for longer hours and with lesser pay, just to make ends meet. In America during the early 19th century, Irish immigrants are believed to have been victims of nativism by Americans themselves. Many reasons have been given for the reasons behind the immense dislike shown by the Americans such as the fact that many of the Irish migrants were Roman Catholics and alcoholics. The real reason however is attributed to the fact that the Irish were also very hardworking and were preferred over Native Americans, for many jobs; thus making the latter highly insecure.
  3. Political – Political events play a huge role in increasing xenophobia and one’s insecurity about foreigners in society. For instance, the terrorist related events of 9/11 in the States have actually increased the overall prejudice of society against people from the Middle East. Anger over this historic event led to attacks on many innocent people, simply because they either looked Middle Eastern or because they wore a turban.

Although nativism all over the world is very much a stark reality, nations have not yet been able to put their finger on the perfect solution to contain it. Educating citizens about the importance of immigrants and their contribution to society, hosting community building drives and events as well as celebrating diversity in cultures are a few positive steps that countries can adopt. The speeches made and campaigns held by politicians and other influential figures should focus on the community as a whole. Care should be taken to ensure that the sentiments of all groups are respected and also that no one group is targeted verbally. By making the attempt to understand other cultures and groups; nativism may one day become a thing of the past.