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Migration is the movement of people from one location in the world to another (National Geographic Society, 2005). Why do people migrate in the first place? There are two main factors that explain why people move - push factors and pull factors. Push factors refers to leaving a place due to problems such as war, poor sanitation, natural disasters while pull factors refer to moving to a place due to benefits which includes better climate and political stability. On the stage of global migration, cities play the role of the lead actors (Turner, 2012). There are many cities around the world that the immigrants play a starring role in the work force as well as the social life of the cities (Migration Information Source, 2012). More often than not, most of the cities in the top tiers are usually both global economic hubs and magnets for immigrants (Migration Information Source, 2012).
This paper attempts to seek the factors that contribute to making cities such an attraction for immigrants - the pull factors of migration in those cities. Additionally, it looks at some of the issues and the impacts regarding on large numbers of immigrants in the city. Thus, immigrants in this paper would refer to those who are from another country entering a new country's city to make a new home (National Geographic Society, 2005). Johannesburg, Toronto and Singapore will be the three separate cities to be used as case studies and referred to throughout this paper.
People move to cities because of better opportunities relating to work, education, entertainment, acceptance and love (Turner, 2012). From an economic perspective, immigrants go to the city in an attempt to climb upwards in their careers, while some would extend their education in higher learning (Turner, 2012). Healthcare services, interesting neighborhoods and good public transport systems are also taken into account when determining how attractive a city is to a potential immigrant (Rockel, 2012).
Being a home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, Johannesburg is South Africa's economic hub (CBCNews, 2008). Johannesburg attracts this large number of immigrants, especially from poorer neighboring countries, due to the better economic opportunities and the services that the city offers (CDE, 2008). Besides, many asylum seekers and refugees flee away from Africa's "hot spots" for a safer and peaceful place to live (Rollnick, 2006). Thus, one of the pull factors that the immigrants are attracted to Johannesburg due to its ability to offer political stability and peace.
However, the capacity to accommodate international migrants in a city like Johannesburg is a worrying problem since a huge number of their very own citizens are struggling with poverty (Rollnick, 2006). These international migrants face employment difficulties, barriers to health and education services (Rollnick, 2006). To make matters worse, the Johannesburg police and citizens are hostile towards the immigrants, posing potential problems with regards to personal and family safety (Rollnick, 2006). In the most extreme cases, there have been murderous xenophobic attacks on immigrants in the city (CDE, 2008).
The large number of immigrants arriving to Johannesburg has also caused more illegal activities. Despite having restrictive immigration policy, there are many immigrants who seek to pay for forged documents in order to legitimize their stay (Rollnick, 2006). Therefore, immigrants entering cities may not necessarily bring more good which is depicted in Johannesburg's case, more harm is done instead.
Since its inception as a city in the 19th century, Toronto has been receiving immigrants, eventually emerging as a modern immigrant city in the 1960s onwards whereby its foreign born population increased tremendously (DeVoretz, 2004). In fact, half of the city's population was born outside of Canada (Access Alliance, 2010). Being a metropolis with diverse ethnicity, races, languages and religions, Toronto has been transformed into a multicultural city in just a matter of a few decades of global migration (Anisef & Lanphier, 2003). There are many other factors that would attract immigrants heading towards Toronto such as being ranked highly in the year 2012 for being the fourth most 'liveable' city based on political and social stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure (City of Toronto, 2012). For immigrants to be attracted to a particular city, not only must it be able to offer a lease of new life, safety and security, political stability and new jobs, but to also allow the immigrants to be accepted and be part of that community as well. Hence, immigrants have the tendency to move to places where their community members already live (Rockel, 2012). Thus, immigrants from all over the world has looked to Toronto as a potential new home due to its welcoming immigration policies (DeVoretz, 2004) and the prospect of being part of a wide range of immigrant and diaspora communities (Anisef & Lanphier, 2003).
Most recent immigrants head to Toronto for the opportunities to seek for better employment are educated and highly skilled upon arrival, with about 50 per cent of them having completed at least secondary education and 13 per cent of them possessing Masters degrees or higher (Access Alliance, 2010). The challenge for having half of the city's population being immigrants is to actually assimilate them into Toronto's labour market and ultimately contribute to the fortune of Canada's largest city (Turner, 2012). Built on the determination of foreign workers, it is no wonder that Toronto's approach towards the immigrants is to ensure they are well assimilated into their society and be able to contribute to the city's economic performance (Seale, 2012). Thus, at present, there are organizations responsible for making Toronto more appealing to immigrant entrepreneurs (Rockel, 2012). Furthermore, Toronto even has a volunteer program which gives city employees to mentor skilled immigrants on office and employment success on a voluntary basis (Turner, 2012). Toronto also takes an extra step in welcoming the communities by playing the role of a service provider (Turner, 2012). This is done through community faith walks whereby children will be educated and made aware of the religious diversity in their schools which will help support practices that value this diversity (Turner, 2012).
For its limited natural resources and manpower, Singapore has done extremely well to get international recognition for many various reasons. Being rated as the top in the most politically stable country and the highest quality of life in Asia, best work force in the world, third wealthiest nation in the world by Forbes Magazine and so on are by no means small but amazing feats achieved by such a small country (Janus Corporate Solutions, 2012). It is worth noting that Singapore has always been an immigrant society in which 40 per cent of its labour force is made up of foreign immigrants (Kuhn, 2012). Singapore has been well known for its high quality education such as the National University of Singapore and one of the best health care systems in the world (Hojnicki, 2012). Due to its strategic location, Singapore is currently aiming to be one of the top financial hubs in the world (Janus Corporate Solutions, 2012). According to a report by the World Bank, Singapore is the best in the world for business due to its open and competitive trade, equal regulations on both foreign and domestic businesses, unemployment stands at a low 2.1 per cent (Hojnicki, 2012). All these represents the pull factors that Singapore has that attracts immigrants into their city. On top of that, Singapore provides heavy security measures for its residents with strong law enforcements carried out by their corruption-free police (Hor, 2006). Thus, immigrants looking for a safer place to stay in where crime rates are generally lower would choose Singapore as one of their potential homes. Singapore also has no known natural disasters but only the rain or shine weather which are huge incentives for immigrants coming from countries that are plagued with floods, tornadoes or earthquake (Hor, 2006). Besides, Singapore has lenient immigration rules that allow anyone to come into Singapore so long as they have the necessary passes or documents. This is also due to the adoption of attracting foreign talent policies that Singapore has (Ramesh, 2011). With Singapore having so many pull factors, it is no wonder that it is such a magnet to so many immigrants. Unfortunately, immigration is being seen as a potential problem for Singapore by some of their citizens.
Singapore has two main categories of foreign labour - the foreign worker and foreign talent. The driving force responsible for Singapore's construction boom is largely credited to the foreign workers (Oi, 2010). Aside from Singaporeans not willing to take on jobs that are considered to be hard labour, they are also much cheaper to hire than the locals and mainly come from Malaysia, Bangladesh and China (Oi, 2010). These countries are mostly not as well-developed as Singapore yet and thus represent an opportunity for the foreign workers to earn 'better' money in a 'better' place. Unlike Toronto mentioned earlier however, Singaporeans have not been very welcoming to all the foreign workers (Kuhn, 2012). There are quite some discontent from a fair share of Singaporeans being unhappy with the foreigners' presence in Singapore as they identify these talented 'aliens' as threats and unfair competition when it comes to competing for employment, especially the top jobs (Ramesh, 2011). For example, when the city is going through a recession where unemployment rate is high and performing poorly in the economic sector, fingers are usually pointed at the foreign migrant workers for the 'stealing' the local's jobs (Kuhn, 2012).
While there are growing complaints from the locals in regards to the increasing number of immigrants, the Singaporean government has responded by implementing tighter immigration control such as reducing the annual intake of foreign workers and increase taxes on foreign workers to discourage local companies importing labour (Oi, 2010). Nevertheless, the Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong insisted that the nation needs to replace the shortage of labour in the economy and the lack of babies in the population by taking in foreign workers who can contribute to the Singapore economy and society (Ramesh, 2011). The arrival of the immigrants also caused Singapore's subway, public housing estates and schools to be severely overcrowded, although not as crowded compared to Tokyo or New York (Kuhn, 2012). Additionally, there are genuine public concerns over the dilution of the Singaporean identity due to the growing numbers of immigrants in the society in which PM Lee responded by urging the 'new' Singaporeans to try picking up and learning Singapore customs, norms and lifestyles to better assimilate into the Singapore society (Kuhn, 2012).
On the whole, immigrant cities are increasing due to the works of globalization and the hastening of immigration flows determined by social networks, income differentials and the several policies of the state (Migration Information Source, 2012). Falling transport costs and the global reach of media portraying elsewhere with higher standards of living are the two primary factors of globalization responsible for the soaring numbers of international migration across the world (Rollnick, 2006). That being mentioned, it is worth noting that the great cities of the United States would not be possible if not for the contribution of the immigrants (Rollnick, 2006). There are both positive and negative impacts on the presence of large numbers of immigrants in a particular city. While the case of Singapore and Toronto has mainly showed how much the immigrants could contribute to the economy, it also showed certain problems that are created due to their arrival. Generally, the arrivals of immigrants coming into these cities may have the effect of revival on neighborhoods, replenishing the supply of labour but it may also be putting on new strains on certain institutions such as schools and government services (Buettner, 2002). Furthermore, immigrants migrating also have the potential to generate social tensions such as the xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg and also cause cities to lose its cream of the crop in terms of intelligence and capabilities - brain drain (Rollnick, 2006).
Global cities in the world today are the hubs of national production and consumption whereby the generation of wealth and opportunities are in abundance due to its economic and social processes (Rollnick, 2006). It is no wonder why they are such magnets to many immigrants. While there are many cities that have chosen to invite immigrants to help boost their economic performance, their potential to cause certain social problems should not be taken lightly. Ultimately, some cities may be magnets for immigrants due to economic benefits, but for many others, they may represent a magnet of hope.