"Journey of Hope," the Academy Award-winning Swiss film about Turkish peasants trying to cross illegally into Switzerland in search of a better life, tells a story that is repeated thousands of times each day, often with heartbreaking results. The latest headlines are from Italy, where authorities are feverishly working to persuade desperate Albanians to return to their benighted country. The problem, of course, is that they have so little to return to, and so much to hope for in developed countries where economic opportunity seems to beckon.
What drives them? As the weary Turkish peasant in the film replied: "Hope."
In too many countries around the world, hope is a scarce commodity. Many people can hardly feed and clothe their children; the hope of educating them and seeing them build a more prosperous life is nothing more than a pipe dream.
Meanwhile, developed countries pick and choose among these would-be immigrants, splitting hairs between "political" refugees, who are acceptable, and "economic" refugees, who aren't. Even without these definitions, refugees would face an uphill battle -- developed countries simply cannot absorb all the people in the world who are desperate for hope.