Professor Tahseen Shams recently published a blog post titled “We need a more globalized response to pandemics for immigrant integration” on oecd-development-matters.org. This blog is part of a series observing COVID-19 in developing countries and analyses the roles of immigrants and their descendants in the U.S. society during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this blog post, Professor Tahseen Shams discusses the rise of anti-immigrant xenophobia amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and its epidemiological, economical, legal and social implications for U.S. migrants. She connects these reactions to those of previous epidemics such as Zika, Ebola, and SARS, which reveal the underlying divide in U.S. society between immigrants and “natives”.
Professor Tahseen Shams is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities on the St. George campus. Her research interests are in the areas of international migration, globalization, race/ethnicity, nationalism, and religion. Her book, Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World was released earlier this year.
We’ve included an excerpt of the blog post below. Read the full post on the OECD Development Matters blog here.
We need a more globalised response to pandemics for immigrant integration
By Tahseen Shams, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto
Tue., Sep. 29, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that what happens in a faraway land does not stop at its borders but can produce domino effects forceful enough to lock down the entire world. How have we as a globalised society responded to this moment with regards to immigrant integration?
Not well. Immigrants, long singled-out as disease carriers, are again being blamed for the world’s epidemic. Because the Coronavirus originated in China, xenophobia has now turned its gaze on those perceived as Asian immigrants. Pre-existing anti-Chinese racism, for instance, has spiked in the United States even though the virus that led to the outbreak in New York, which has the largest U.S. death toll, came from Europe. Anti-immigrant xenophobia has risen in general despite immigrants comprising the bulk of our essential workforce. Right-wing advocates, based on what could only be described as poorly disguised racism, are using the pandemic as evidence of the dangers of immigration. Their fearmongering taps into the public’s fears and suspicion towards “foreigners”—a label that never seems to detach itself from immigrants and their descendants. Social media, fake news, and political discourse are also helping to depict immigrants as foreigners who bring dangers from faraway lands into our country.