THE COMPLEXITY OF
In a recent Caribbean Affairs
article, Carlson (1994) depicted
This focus on the patterns and consequences of extra-regional mobility is appropriate given its growth and
persistence over the last three decades. At the same
time, such a singular concentration on Caribbean (extra-regional) immigration
and emigration at the expense of other patterns of international mobility overlooks important and significant facets of today’s (and
yesterday’ s) evolving
overstaying, unauthorized entry, and refugee flight situations being among the options discussed, against a framework of concern for all people’s human rights and dignities.
There are persuasive arguments that distinctions can
be drawn between categories of
analysis draws upon a variety of data sources to exemplify the increasing
The former circulation process is expected to increase substantially as the annual entry volumes of emigrants either doesn’t change significantly, or may even decline over the same time period. Differences in the timing of such increases in non-immigrant visiting flows may be a significant qualification to any region-wide generalization, as may be the differential effects that (travel) distances to-and-from the United States appear to play on the incidence of this potential substitution effect of circulation for emigration. In addition, tourist stayover-visiting data constitutes a source for a region-wide comparison of the growth in volumes of “metropolitan” tourist and business visiting. This pattern of international flows might best be considered a conceptual “counter-stream” of the region’s emigration and circulation patterns. First time, metropolitan tourist visitors obviously make up one proportion of each tourist stream that is not inter-linked with other streams, On the other hand, repetitive visiting and business visiting can be strongly implicated in the development of the region’s mobility system. Returning migrants, re-patriating circulators, returning resident aliens and naturalized citizens, returning US Caribbean “visiting” residents, and even purveyors of remittances investments, can be expected to number among the tourist and business arrivals volumes. Evidence from Caribbean Tourism Statistical Reports and Annual International Travel Reports of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago are used to illustrate this complexity of the metropolitan tourist and business visiting patterns of the Caribbean region. A final section that debates the issue of the legal vs. illegal aspects of the Caribbean mobility system, utilizes estimations of overstayer patterns drawn from secondary sources (such as Warren, 1990), and draws upon other recent analyses of US immigration patterns and policies (Basch, et. al., 1994; Kritz, 1987; Passel and Fix, 1994).
Decennial census reports in Caribbean destination areas allow examination of some national immigrant populations, even though the “place of birth” enumeration needed to identify immigrant stocks is irregularly reported. For example, specifics of regional national origins are obscured by tabulations such as “British West Indians” or “Other Caribbean” for foreign-born Caribbean immigrants in a number of countries, e.g. Jamaica and Antigua. Nevertheless, a region-wide comparison of foreign-born immigrant proportions can be useful.
TABLE 1: FOREIGN-BORN RESIDENT POPULATIONS IN SELECTED
CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES, 1960-80
Population Foreign-Born Populations Percent Foreign-Born
at most recent 1960 1970/1 1980/1 in most recent
Census (000s) (000s) (000s) (000s) Census
65 4.5 7 10.6
Bahamas 169 31 18.4
Barbados 244 10.0 13 19 7.6
Belize 153 7.6 10 12 7.8
Bermuda 54 14 26.2
British Virgin Isles. 11 4 35.2
Cayman Isles. 17 1.5 4 25.4
Cuba 8569 128 1.5
Dominica 74 2.4 2 2.4
Dominican Republic. 4006 32 0.8
French Guiana 73 32 43.6
Grenada 89 4.0 2 2.7
Guadeloupe 327 35 10.7
Guyana 759 6 0.8
Current estimates of foreign-born (migrant stock) percentages of resident populations in Caribbean countries indicate significant increases for almost all countries since 1960 as well as for most ex-colonies (Table 1). Proportions range from a negligible 0.3 percent foreign born in Haiti, to 50 percent in the United States Virgin Islands. Large Caribbean countries generally have small foreign Immigrant stocks, such as Haiti with 0.3 percent, Cuba with 1.5 percent, the Dominican Republic with 0.8 percent and Jamaica with 1.5 percent. Guyana is the only country with a relatively small population and an equally small foreign stock sub-population, 0.8 percent. In contrast, several small territories show appreciable foreign stock proportions: the US Virgin Islands with almost 50 percent, the British Virgin Islands with 35.2 percent, French Guiana with 43.6 percent, Bermuda with 26.2 percent and the Cayman Islands with 25.4 percent. In contrast, other Caribbean countries equally small in area and population have small
foreign stock proportions: St. Vincent and the Grenadines with 2.2 percent, St. Lucia with 3.1 percent, Grenada with 2.7 percent, and Dominica with 2.4 percent. These Windward islands (with the exception of St. Lucia) have also experienced declines in foreign-born proportions during the period 1960 to 1980, a trend contrary to the region as a whole. An interesting comparison is between two of the French Departments D’Outre Mer; Guadeloupe has a relatively large foreign population proportion (11 percent), but Martinique has only a small proportion (0.8 percent). An intermediate group of territories, including Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago, with percentages above 6 percent and below 20 percent, make up the remainder (Table 1). Where temporal differences are recorded, increases in foreign-born proportions during the period 1960 to 1980 have occurred in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.
This trend suggests, but scarcely confirms, the possibility of replacement effects, according to which immigrants are replacing native emigrants. This has also been suggested by McElroy and de Albuquerque (1988) in their depictions of small Caribbean islands like the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and the US and British Virgin Islands as undergoing “migration transitions.”
The 1989 Demographic Yearbook (UN, 1991) and the1980/1981 Commonwealth Caribbean censuses provide data for a selective examination of Commonwealth Caribbean countries for which main intra-Caribbean movements can be deduced from immigrant stock proportions (Table 2). Comparable statistical estimates of foreign born residents derived from the 1946 British West Indian censuses by Proudfoot (1970) provide evidence of trends in historical continuity of the intra-regional patterns (Table 3). In Barbados significant streams from St. Lucia and St. Vincent have persisted and become dominant, with Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago also contributing appreciable proportions. In the British Virgin Islands, St. Kitts-Nevis was the dominant immigrant source in 1981. Dominicans in 1946 were in significant numbers in Antigua and Trinidad, but by 1980 better trodden paths through Guadeloupe and Martinique appear to have diverted these Windward Islanders out of the British Commonwealth domain to nearby French department’s d-outre mer (Conway, 1989a). Grenada’s links with Trinidad are evidenced in the small but dominant presence of Trinidadians on the Spice Island in both periods, and the extremely large number of Grenadians (over 20,000 both in 1946 and 1981) resident in Trinidad. Montserratians appear spread throughout the Commonwealth Caribbean, admittedly in small numbers. St. Lucia on the other hand appears not to have a really dominant immigrant population, although Barbadians and Vincentians predominated earlier, and Guyanese were recorded as the most populous group of any Caribbean origin in 1981. Trinidad and Tobago was clearly an attractive destination for several Caribbean communities, including Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and British Guiana, but more recently this immigrant presence has been reduced to two distinct Caribbean immigrant populations, from Grenada and St. Vincent. In 1946. Guyana, on the South American mainland, was the focus of a Barbadian dominant stream and two minor secondary streams of St. Lucians and Trinidadians. By 1981, St. Lucians were the dominant immigrant group in Guyana, but Guyanese emigrations elsewhere in the region, especially to Barbados, and Trinidad far exceeded inflows (Tables 2 & 3).
These census enumerations of immigrant stocks and emigrant presences confirm historical findings of persistent, traditional, inter-island migration between certain small islands (Conway, 1 989a). Proximity certainly influences island destination preferences, and most transfers occur within regional groupings; Leeward island circulations appearing to beget emigrant residual communities among the Leeward group - Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts/Nevis; Windward island circulations occurring among members of this more southerly group -with Trinidad and Barbados the focus for small islanders.
Over the last thirty years, since major changes in North American immigration policies (in 1962 for Canada, 1965 for the United States), and accompanying the most recent changes in North American and European policies in the 1990s, circulation (intentional temporary moves to the mainland and returns, often repeated) and “illegal overstaying” strategies are becoming recognized as significant means for Caribbean people to achieve international sojourns in North America (Chancy, 1985; Conway, 1986a, 1988, 1989a; Marshall, 1985; US Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, 1981). Increasingly, there is a perception that the temporary presence of persons (staying less than a year) can have important socioeconomic effects on their countries of sojourn (Zlotnik, 1987).
Extending Zlotnik’s observation I further hypothesize that temporary presences, even of only a few months, are likely to have important effects on countries of sojourn and of origin, especially in terms of international migration and communication network development, information and capital exchanges, human capital endowment and remittances investments. Viewed as international sojourns over the life-course of an individual, a succession of short stays of varying durations can sum to an incremental effect both in terms of the individual’s acquisition of life skills, capital, familial and communal ties and network incorporation and in terms of additive consequences to home and sojourning environments. When viewing the human capital contributions of such international visitors as foreign students and highly-skilled specialists, whether their length of stay is short or long is less important than the contributions they make to the domestic economy, and the human capital they acquire: both of which can be considerable even during a short sojourn, or a succession of sojourns. Such recognition of the importance of short term, international sojourning challenges the (uncritically) assumed notion that only long-term durations of residence are the effective time frames for conceiving migration events and their consequences. This examination of the 1965-91 patterns of non-immigrant entries to the United States from the Caribbean therefore, broadens the treatment of international movement behaviors to include patterns of temporary sojourning and circulation “visiting” as an integral part of the evolving system.
Estimates of the increasing significance of Caribbean “visiting” patterns can be garnered from the Immigration and Naturalization Service records of non-immigrant volumes admitted to the United States during the period 1965-1991 (Table 4). The temporal trends through the sequence of five year periods, starting in 1965 and continuing through to the 1986-1991 period clearly indicate massive increases. In almost all cases recorded by countries of origin (with Dominica and St. Lucia the exceptions), increases in visiting volumes occurred in the second half of the 1970s. The Bahamas differed from this pattern, in that volumes remained relatively stable, and high, throughout the 1970s. The 1980s witnessed a continuation of increases for every country but Guyana and the Dominican Republic, where in the 1975-79 period this country stands out as the region’s major contributor of non-immigrant visitors to the US. Several countries’ non-immigrant volumes doubled in the 1980s: The Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, and Trinidad and Tobago. By 1991, only Guyana exhibited lower non-immigrant volumes than in previous five-year periods. The latest period, 1986-91, not only indicates the largest non-immigrant volumes throughout the whole region but it also signifies an accelerated growth of volumes in the second half of the decade. Only Bermuda and Guyana are exceptions to this generalization (Table 4).
If a substitution effect of circulation and visiting for emigration to the mainland US can be observed, it should be reflected in a significant increase of INS non-immigrant flows while at the same time Resident Alien admission volumes either don’t change significantly, or may even decline over the same time period. The timing of such increases in non-immigrant visiting flows may be a significant qualification to any region-wide generalization. It also might be anticipated that any substitution effect of circulation and/or visiting for more permanent emigration may be influenced by the Caribbean island’s proximity to the mainland and its effect on travel costs to-and-from the United States.
The first step in this comparison of the patterns of nonimmigrant visiting to the United States with the more permanent international mobility option, that of acquiring admission to the Unites States as a “permanent” Resident alien, is presentation of the patterns of immigrant Resident Aliens. At the onset it is worthy of note that even the distinction between the non-immigrant visitor as “temporary-sojourner”, and the Resident Alien as “more-permanent emigrant” is imprecise. In large part, this is because the acquisition of a Resident Alien “greencard” actually permits the recipient the freedom of international movement that only the B-2, Business visitor, multiple entry visa affords other foreigners seeking entry to the United States. How many Resident Alien petitioners merely seek such privileges for temporary sojourning in the United States, while maintaining residence in their Caribbean home, is unknown, but might very well be higher than US immigration-commentators expect.
TABLE 5: LEGAL US IMMIGRANT (RESIDENT ALIEN)
VOLUMES FROM SELECTED CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES:
CARIBBEAN Population 1969 1970 1975 1980 1985 SubTotal % 1991
(000sl 1965 1974 1979 1984 1989 1975 Pop.
Barbuda 64 - - 3.394 6.288 4.399 14.081 22.0%
Bahamas 252 -
- 2.298 2.674 3.803 8.775 3.5%
Barbados 252 5.944 8,034 12.021 10,448 7.956 30.425 11.9%
Beilze 228 - - 4.221 7,517 7.804 19.542 8.6%
Cuba 10,732 183,499 101.066 176.908 53.698 109.968 340.574 3.2%
Domlnlca 86 - - 2.827 3.124 3.203 9.154 10.6%
Dominican 7.385 57.441 63,792 77,785 98,121 128.732 304.638 4.1 %
Grenada 84 - - 4.757 5,518 4.965 15.240 18.1%
Guyana 750 4,230 12.914 32.964 42.574 49.818 125.356 16.7 %
HaitI 6.287 24,325 28.917 30.181 40,265 86.114 156,560 2.5%
Jamaica 2,489 49.480 65.402 72.654 100,607 107.607 280.416 11.3%
St Kltts/Nevis 40 - - 4.019 . 7,201 3.386 14.606 36.5%
St. Lucia 153 - - 2.72? 3.658 2.895 9.280 6.1 %
St. Vincent & 114 - - 2.705 3.743 3,600 10.048 8.8%
Trinidad & 1,285 15,502 34.646 29.326 19.341 18.606 67,273 5.2 %
Sources: 1965 1968 Annual Reports, 1978-1991, INS Statistical Yearbooks,
(Washington, D.C.: INS, Department of Justice)
The above qualification not withstanding, comparative trends of US-bound emigration during the period, 1965-91, can be illustrated by reference to the INS estimates of annual volumes of Resident Alien admissions (Table 5). These admission estimates are not mobility estimates per Se, because they do not record entries, but rather the successful completion of the application procedure. Nor do such estimates mirror the mainland de facto residency status of the applicants: some proportion of whom may be resident in the Caribbean, some in Canada, in the UK. or elsewhere than the United States, albeit a minor proportion. Resident Alien admissions therefore, constitute a conservative estimate of emigration and immigration patterns between Caribbean source countries and the US host destination.
Also of some significance to this examination of temporal trends in annual Resident alien admissions, is the IRCA amnesty program that was implemented in 1986, which differentially effects admissions totals for several Caribbean countries, but at different years. Notably, Haitian “amnesty” admissions peaked in 1988 at 34,806 persons. Cuban admissions peaked in 1986 at 33,114 persons. The Dominican Republic’s experience was of equally-high annual totals throughout the five-year period with a minimum of 23,787 persons in 1985 and a maximum of 27,189 persons in 1988. Jamaican post-IRCA admissions peaked in 1989 at 24,523 persons. Three of these major immigration source countries in the Caribbean experienced substantial increases in their admissions volumes, doubling or tripling their ‘legal’ immigrant totals after 1965. The variation in Cuba’s trends, with a decline in admissions occurring in the 1980-1984 period, perhaps more reflects the realities of the two countries’ “Cold-war” administrative posturing than it does the system dynamics of the network of island to-mainland linkages evidenced in the other three major sending countries. On the other hand, many smaller Caribbean countries demonstrate declines in resident alien admission volumes during the latest period, 1985-89: among them, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts/Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Indeed, both Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago show significant declines throughout the 1980s, and Trinidad and Tobago’s peak was even earlier in the 1970-74 period at 34,646 persons. Other Caribbean countries’ trends of admissions do not demonstrate any direction of change, but rather fluctuations are as likely to be a result of administrative procedure, as they are of immigration intentions or of application levels (Table 5).
There are demonstrable declines in annual volumes of permanent Resident Alien admissions among several Caribbean countries, but are they countered by substantial increases in non-immigrant visiting flows, which might suggest a “substitution effect” of circulation? Several countries’ divergent trends suggest the possibility of such substitution. Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago experience declines in volumes of immigrant admissions, and contrasting upturns in non-immigrant visiting volumes during the post 1979 period. The same countries reflect similar divergent trends in the post 1985 period. These appear the strongest candidates for a substitution effect of visiting and sojourning. Joining them during the post 1985 period are a number of others. Two have the same distinctive divergent trends - Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada, which are indicative of a substitution effect. Several others experienced relatively meagre increments in their volumes of immigrant (Resident alien) admissions, but had substantial increases in non-immigrant visiting flows: the Bahamas, Belize, Dominica and St. Lucia. There were two countries that experienced trends contrary to expectations. Jamaica and the Dominican Republic both experienced considerable increases in immigrant admissions, but their non-immigrant visiting volumes fluctuated, contracting and expanding through the period in question. Two countries, however, stand apart as exceptions to this hypothesized “substitution effect” of non-immigrant visiting, Guyana and Haiti. During the post 1985 period, Guyanese Resident Alien admissions increased, while their non-immigrant visiting numbers decreased. Haitian admissions, including a considerable number of IRCA Amnesty applicants to be sure, increased dramatically after 1985, while their non-immigrant visiting numbers remained relatively unchanged, only showing a very modest increase in comparison to the experience of almost every other Caribbean country (Tables 4&5).
There doesn’t appear to be a “distance-decay” pattern in the location of the Caribbean countries where there is an indication of a substitution effect of visiting for permanent emigration. Barbados, Behze and Trinidad and Tobago are among the most distant sending societies in the region. In terms of comparative volumes of visiting flows, proximity to the mainland appears to be influential, however. The Bahamas certainly evidences the largest volume of visiting flows, and the small islands of the Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Isles and the Cayrnan Islands all appear to have relatively high proportions of their population visiting the US mainland (Table 4).
To date, international visiting patterns have been of interest to Caribbean analysts as estimates of the growth and health of the region’s tourism industry. The fluctuating trends in mass tourist volumes are depicted to reflect the expansion, or contraction, of each island’s tourist accommodation-levels (Table 6). Differences between business and tourist visiting proportions have been recognized, and there has been some attempt to distinguish foreign visitors from Caribbean residents in the annual inventories of international travel patterns collected by some island’s tourism organizations (as evidenced in the questions sought on “landing card” procedures utilized by airlines in the region). However, the significance of returning “nationals” in the foreign visiting flow has yet to be recognized as an important return mobility flow. Among entries recorded, distinctions between Caribbean residents, nationals holding “green-cards,” foreigners with Caribbean and US/Canadian dual-residences who might be returning for a short seasonal visit, are lacking: only nationality and place of residence information are expected to distinguish tourist visits from resident returns. Returning “circulators” are missed.
TABLE 6: STAYOVER TOURIST ARRIVALS IN THE
1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
Barbuda 166.2 177.0 195.0 198.0 205.7
Bahamas 1375.2 1479.9 1,475.0 1,575.1 1,561.1
Barbados 396.8 421.9 451.5 461.3 432.1
Bellze 93.8 99.3 164.3 219.7 221.8
Cuba 281.9 293.4 309.2 310.0 320.0
Domlnica 24.4 26.7 31.8 35.2 45.1
DominIcan 785.0 911.3 1,116.4 1,400.01 1,533.2
Grenada 57 3 57.4 61.8 68.6 82.0
Guyana 46.8 59.8 71.1 67.4 67.0
HaIti 111.7 121.8 122.0 122.0 120.0
Jamaica 663.6 738.8 648.9 714.8 840.8
St.Lucia 111.7 111.6 125.3 132.8 138.4
St.Vincerit & 42.1 46.0 47.0 50.1 53.9
Trinidad & 191.3 201.7 187.7 194.2 194.0
Source: CTO (1991) Caribbean Statistical Report, 1990 (Barbados:
Caribbean Tourism Organization).
Here I enlarge the scope of the Caribbean international mobility system to include “metropolitan” tourist and business visiting flows as a system of temporary, short-term mobility that constitutes both a conceptual “counter-stream” of the region’s emigration and circulation patterns, and includes important proportions of re-patriation circulation, returning resident alien and naturalized citizen visitation, returning US Caribbean visiting residents and purveyors of pocket-transfer capital and remittances, among the visiting tourists (Table 6) First time, metropolitan tourist visitors obviously make up one proportion of each visiting stream that is not inter-linked with other streams.
However, repetitive visiting can be more strongly implicated in the development of the region’s mobility system, since such foreign circulation is likely to stimulate reciprocal movement of island residents as friendship networks develop, as domestic-service relations form, and as social and familial affinities form.
Business visitors also form similar international connections, in addition to more formal linkages, where capital and technology transfers feature as reciprocal accumulations, where business partnerships are formed, and international mobility of business partners becomes an expected accompaniment to island-mainland, and island-island business ventures.
This “counterstream” of circulators, although made up of short-stayover sojourners, deserves recognition as an incorporated dimension of the region’s international mobility system, even though the character and consequences of this circuit can only be surmised.
Visiting volumes, in addition to foreign tourists contain proportions of returning migrants, re-patriating circulators, returning resident aliens and naturalized citizens, returning US Caribbean “visiting” residents, even purveyors of remittances investments, among tourist and business arrivals. One surrogate measure this returning, circulating proportion is the proportion derived estimate) of tourist arrivals who indicate their of temporary residence in the Caribbean as a “private unregistered” place, as opposed to tourist accommodation. Returnees, with connections among resident population, family, or friends, even business associates and contacts are most likely to indicate private and unregistered addresses as their place to stay. Among the selection of Caribbean destinations presented, the visitor profiles vary widely. Several appear to considerable entry flows destined for pr accommodation.
The average proportion approximates 14 percent, all but the Dominican Republic exceeding ten percent. Quite pronounced, though in part a reflection of the limited capacity of the hotel sector, three countries proportions of private home visitors exceeding 50 percent: Dominica, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago
Further evidence from Trinidad and Tobago adds more substance to this illustration of the growing complexity of the metropolitan tourist and business visiting patterns of the Caribbean region, and their connections with other sub-systems of its international mobility streams and counter-streams (Table 8). A comparison of patterns of business visiting from three extra-regional metropolitan regions, and from the neighboring Commonwealth Caribbean through the period 1975-1990, shows the dominance of intra-regional business visiting. On the other hand, approximately 60 per cent of the tourist visiting volumes in 1990 are accommodated in private, unregistered homes, suggesting there is a major, if short-term, visiting volume of returnees circulating between Trinidad and Tobago and North America (US and Canada) and Britain (United Kingdom). For this Republic, the visiting volumes appear less representative of the health of the tourist industry, than they are a reflection of the islands’ linkages with overseas enclave communities, with over 78 percent of all visitors in 1990 being either business visitors or visitors destined for private accommodation with kin, friends or relatives (Table 8).
A final question that perhaps is the most challenging to answer concerns the “illegality” of Caribbean international migration and circulation strategies, when some of the region’s people intentionally seek means of unauthorized entry to another territory. It is common for receiving (host?) societies to assert that a simple dichotomy exists between “legal” and ‘illegal” status, thereby discounting the possibility that there may be important distinctions among illegal means of entry, or of staying. Legal admission procedures, legal means for acquiring visitor and business visitor visas, and legal avenues for petitioning for refugee hearings, constitute the yardstick against which all alternative “unauthorized” entry methods are judged equally “illegal.” This applies to Caribbean host countries as it does the extra regional metropolitan destinations.
However, if we make a distinction between immigration and circulation intentions, then there may indeed be more than a qualitative distinction between acts of illegal immigration, versus acts of visiting and unauthorized overstaying. Unauthorized entry, clandestine border crossing, drug- and people- smuggling via underground “railroads”: these methods of illegal entry are distinguishable and warrant censor. Is this the same as unauthorized overstaying of a circulator who stays longer than the six month period the visa permitted, but intends to leave, and does eventually leave to return home? Perhaps we should be more willing to assess migration and circulation behaviors in terms of the degree of criminality of actions which result in the crossing of a territorial/jurisdictional boundary, especially when the sojourning action is devoid of criminal intent: to steal, to rob, to maim, or to do bodily harm, even an intention to stay longer than six months. Are actions of “unauthorized overstaying” and “visiting” with intentions to sojourn-and-return home of such Illegality that they warrant the hype and histrionic ‘nativist’ concern this topic is receiving in the State of California right now?
When “refugee flight” is an intended sojourn to escape death, political recrimination, flee war and community destruction and there is every intention to return, surely such petitions for temporary haven warrant the receiving society’s humanity? These topics should be considered within a framework of concern for all people’s human rights and dignities: whether “legal residents” - tourist, business or exchange visitors, diplomatic guests, visiting students, highly-skilled visiting specialist, citizens, resident aliens, refugee petitioners, IRCA amnesty petitioners, change-of-status petitioners, or “illegal residents” — unauthorized entrants, illegal documented residents, unauthorized overstayers, clandestine-smuggled illegal aliens.
If we consider the ethical question of the rights of aliens, “it is presence in territory, rather than citizenship, that determines whether the government of that territory has the primary responsibility for upholding a person’s rights at a particular time. Human rights flow from one’s humanity, not from one’s citizenship status, and thus aliens have as much claim to provision for protection of their rights as do natives.” (Nickel, 1981 :3-4). With reference to Caribbean circulators and their sojourning in the United States, I would extend this argument to blur the distinctions between “foreign-guests” and “overstayers” who should expect the host society’s protection of their human rights. Both are temporarily in the territory, the distinction being that the former is a visitor still legally within their six month permissible sojourn-time, while the latter unauthorized overstayer” has not yet left, and is beyond his/her six month sojourn-time The choice of six-months for a visiting schedule is the agreed contractual arrangement of the visa, but there may very well be pressing matters that emerge that disrupt intended return plans, and delay departure. Not inconsequential in this regard, the UN recognizes “one year” as a duration of significance for defining a migrant, and recent research by Warren (1990) suggests many overstayers do indeed leave the United States within one year.
TABLE 9: ESTIMATED NON IMMIGRANT OVERSTAyERS
IN THE US FROM SELECTED CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES:
1985 - 1988.
Overstayers Change, % change
1985 1988 1985-88 85-88
Canada 9.400 6,300 -3.100 -33 per cent
Mexico 24,700 55.800 +31.100 +126 per cent
The Bahamas 5.200 2.300 -2.900 -56 per cent
Barbados 700 1.000 +300 +43 per cent
Source:Warren, R. (1990) “Annual Estimates of Non immigrant Overs tags in the United States: 1985-1988.” In F.D. Bean, B. Edmonston, and J.S. Passel (eds), Undocumented Migration to the United States:
IRCA and the Experience of the 1980s, pp. 77-110. [Table 3.7, PP. 90-9 11.
International circulation, temporary sojourning and repetitive mobility appear as dominant and common patterns throughout the region, for women and men alike. Extra-regional emigration has fostered overseas enclave communities, and a transnational flexibility for living between two worlds, that contributes to the growing cosmopolitan nature of the Caribbean, as it also consolidates regional-and-metropolitan networks and linkages (Basch, et. al., 1994; Carnegie, 1982). Marriage ties facilitated in mainland metropolitan communities may indeed be fostering more Caribbean inter-island exchange than regional mobility opportunities, but such an observation remains mere conjecture, until an appropriate micro-level, life-path data base is forthcoming. My reliance here on a set of region-wide estimates of United States/INS generated admissions, foreign-stock estimates, tourist visiting volumes, and international travel inventories, only affords me the opportunity to indirectly examine the complexities of the Caribbean international mobility system. No doubt, today’ s regional mobility patterns demonstrate a growing complexity of interwoven systems. This examination has demonstrated that our analytical lenses needs to be widened, if we are to capture the dynamism being displayed in the international movement of Caribbean people.