A thoroughgoing documentation of worldwide governmental policies and practices that restrict a once widely accepted right to...


CLOSED BORDERS: The Contemporary Assault on Freedom of Movement

A thoroughgoing documentation of worldwide governmental policies and practices that restrict a once widely accepted right to leave home and hearth for other lands. This is set within the historical context of how states have in the past variously dealt with those who wanted to leave and those whom some governments wanted to get rid of for religious, racial or other reasons. Dowty (political science/Notre Dame) compendiously demonstrates his contention that ""never before have states so effectively controlled the right of their citizens to leave or to stay."" citing the policies of nations as diverse as Syria, Nicaragua, Mozambique and numerous Soviet bloc members. In all. 26 governments admitted to actively discouraging emigration in a recent United Nations survey. Dowty calculates that 36 other countries restrict international travel either ""occasionally, or ""partially."" in recent years. Vietnam also has forced out an uncalculated number of overseas Chinese. while numerous refugees have had to flee Haiti, Ethiopia and Afghanistan because of war and/or an intolerable political/ economic situation. Iran strenuously persecutes members of the Baha'i religion while also denying them the right to emigrate. Many of Dowty's observations are illmninating. Cuba allowed virtually its entire middle class to leave, while Yugoslavia and (to some extent) Hungary are fairly liberal on emigration. He suggests that bans on emigration by the Soviet Union and allied states are rooted more in tsarist absolutism than in communist doctrine. He supplies evidence which places blame for the ""brain drain"" from the Third World on a lack of local opportunities for professionals. He reveals that the US has accepted twice as many legal immigrants and refugees in recent years as the rest of the world combined (illegal immigrants may total 4 to 6 million). There is evidence that new immigrants ultimately pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, while a significant number set up new businesses that provide jobs for native-born Americans. Illegal immigrants, however, tend to squeeze many urban inner-city youths out of the labor force. In sum: a valuable research tool for professionals and scholars in the field of transnational movements of people. A plus: this study is so lucidly written and well organized that it should appeal to everyone interested in learning more about the history and current situation of mass population movements and how governments have variously caused or thwarted them.

Pub Date: March 1, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Yale Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987