(Not-so-) Fleeting thoughts on South Africa’s new immigration regulations

When the new South African immigration regulations were presented for comment (earlier this year), I lambasted what I viewed then (and still do) as an attempt by SA to move towards immigration laws that can only be compared to those of beacons of inclusiveness like Australia (where lower-income South East Asians are treated as unwanted trash that must be ‘processed’ on neighbouring islands, where aborigines are marginalised within their own country, neglecting Australia’s history and location and to whom Australia belonged before the queen’s ships arrived) and Israel (whose policies today mirror those of SA prior to ‘freedom’). The regulations were signed into law, despite concerns raised about the content and the lack of clarity in parts. It has been over a month since promulgation and my views have not changed especially in light of conversations I have had over the past few weeks with government officials from other countries.

Whatever SA’s concerns about “contamination” fuelled by what I can only regard as institutionalised xenophobia (which manifests almost exclusively as afrophobia), there are several demerits to such strict regulations for a country that relies significantly on foreign trade, foreign direct investment and tourism. Two are most glaring:

1. In the longterm, the laws will affect SA’s economy more than they will affect everyone else. Notwithstanding that these regulations won’t necessarily lead to reduced inflows of foreigners. In fact, the stricter regulation of legal migration has been known to increase “illegal” migration (I put illegal in quotes because I have a problem with such terminology).

2. Some have heralded the provisions related to the movement of children, BUT the reality is trafficking in SA is largely INTRA-country, not inter. Furthermore, people who traffic children are unlikely to use legitimate channels to “export” if sodoing will involve greater risk.

Time will tell.

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