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The evidence of the benefits of migration is disconnected from public perception, say migration leaders at an international conference in Sydney this week.

toluTolu Olubunmi: the stories of the seekers of truth, and the curators of change, make the biggest impact.

World-renowned expert on migration research, Professor Ian Goldin from Oxford University, revealed fresh evidence of the impact of migration for growth of economies, fiscal costs and benefits at the International Metropolis Conference.

Professor Goldin’s research, conducted in conjunction with Citi, found that across the globe migrants are:

  • 2 to 3 times more likely to start businesses 
  • 2 to 4 times more likely to start ‘unicorn’ businesses 
  • 2 to 3 times more likely to win Nobel Prizes
  • 2 to 4 times more likely to lodge patents

The report, Migration and the Economy: Economic Realities, Social Impacts and Political Choices, throws light on the growing disconnect between public perceptions of migration and the actual trends.

In many advanced economies, migration has become a toxic issue in election campaigns and political debate, however the authors’ fiscal analysis shows no evidence of the negative perceptions of the impact of migration.

Migrant advocate and entrepreneur, Ms Tolu Olubunmi, said, while the statistics painted the picture, it was the "stories of the seekers of truth, and the curators of change" that made the biggest impact.

“The free movement of people is not a problem to be solved, but rather a human reality to be managed," she said. "There are 244 million international migrants, 65.3 million of whom have been forced from their homes, and 21 million are refugees.

“Rather than trying to work out what the statistics mean, I focus on the individual lives hidden in the shadows of the numbers. I focus on the fathers and the mothers, the employers and the employees, the displaced and the determined.”

As a child, Ms Olubunmi was brought to the USA from Nigeria. After completing her chemical engineering degree, she discovered she didn’t have the legal status to work in her profession. This crushing blow, inspiring her to take action.

“Being able to live your best life, is sometimes determined by having a certain piece of paper. I had a clear choice, to leave the fate of my life to others who were much more powerful than me, or to be part of the solution and start advocating to change the USA law.”

She was the first, and only, “DREAMer” working full-time advocating for access to legal status and higher education for migrant youth in the USA.

Her intuitive knowledge of effectively shifting culture, coupled with an unrelenting pursuit of the technical skills necessary to build and message movements, launched a career that took her from The National Immigration Law Centre to the Obama White House and then the world stage.

Violet Roumeliotis, CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI), conference co-chair and current Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, said Australia’s conversation around migration and multiculturalism drew a sharp dichotomy.

“One on hand we have generous resettlement programs, and a strong history of welcoming people, however, we’ve also had the White Australia policy and have drawn international criticism of our offshore processing program.

“We live within a complex global environment, and there is no such thing as ‘business as usual’ in migration.

“We have world experts, people with lived experience and policy makers together in this unique think tank here at Metropolis. We want you to come up with new ideas, be challenging and be challenged,” said Ms Roumeliotis.

The International Metropolis Conference (www.metropolis2018.org.au) is being held at ICC Sydney, October 29 – November 2, 2018.

 

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