Monday, November 28, 2005

Circles of life

East-to-West Migration Remaking Europe
Since Latvia and nine other countries joined the European Union in May 2004, almost 450,000 people, most of them from the poorest fringes of the formerly communist east, have legally migrated west to the job-rich economies of Ireland, Britain and Sweden. Germany, France and other longtime E.U. members have kept the doors closed for now but promise to open them in coming years to satisfy the bloc's principle that citizens of all member states share the right to move to any other.

Perhaps nowhere is this feeling stronger than in Ireland, a country of 4 million people with one of Europe's fastest-growing economies and memories of how the world took in destitute Irish migrants in generations past. About 150,000 new workers -- mostly Poles, Lithuanians and Latvians -- have registered with the Irish government in the past 18 months, statistics show, although officials say that some may have already been there.
I wonder how the Irish are taking it. I remember when I lived there (has it been six years already?) there were some problems with North African immigrants and racism, but I don't think they have forgotten the signs saying "Irish Need Not Apply" in store windows here in the States. The Irish have come amazingly far in their development of prosperity. How wonderful is it that they can return the favor of giving opportunity to those seeking better lives from Eastern states? Evolution at its finest.

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