International migrations (Identity and Exchange) – Bac d’anglais

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De 75 millions de migrants internationaux en 1977, nous sommes passés à 250 millions en 2015, et nous en attendons 400 millions en 2050. Les migrations internationales (en anglais, international migrations) sont donc de plus en plus importantes et pour des motifs variés. Il faut ainsi les considérer de manière complète, des raisons du départ au processus d’intégration. Découvre tous les enjeux liés à cette thématique grâce à cet article rédigé par Veronika Berger !

Definition of “international migrations”

International migrations are transnational migrations from a home country to a host country for more than a year. If less, it is called tourism or a business trip. The right to emigrate was recognised in the 13th article of the universal declaration of Human Rights in 1848. Nowadays, migrant flows are mixed, concerning people from all walks of life, from students with a visa to climate refugees.

Three types of countries

Three types of migrations

  • Home country: a country a person emigrates from
  • Transit country: a country where migrants stay temporarily to seek information even smugglers to emigrate to another country
  • Host country: a country where a person immigrates to
  • Voluntary and individual: unfavourable social, political or economic context
  • Organised group migrations: migrants seize an opportunity to go to another country with a group of people from your country because of an agreement or because of a lack of cheap labour force (Filipinos in gulf states)
  • Emergency migrations: unbearable living conditions, necessity to leave the country because of a political war or a climate catastrophe. Migrants are defined as refugees.

Refugees can be the theme of the exam for it tackles the issue of migratory crises and integration, for some people or associations defend and protect them. They want to give refugees a right to stay in a country where they can have decent living conditions, like in the book Refugee Boy written in 2001 by Benjamin Zephaniah. Refugee status is defined by the Geneva convention in 1951 as a person persecuted in its home country because of its ethnicity, religion, political opinion or its sexual orientation. Today, there are more than 60 million political refugees worldwide.

A retenir : Les migrations internationales sont des flux de personnes se dirigeant d’un pays de départ à un pays d’accueil. Cependant, en fonction de leur situation (économique, sociale), de leur origine ethnique et de leur pays de départ, leurs motifs de départ ainsi que leur intégration dans les pays d’accueil sont divers.

Attention : Il faut considérer les migrations internationales à la fois en prenant en considération les réfugiés et immigrés économiques, mais également les personnes qui changent de pays pour un motif familial, de travail.

A savoir sur la notion de migrations internationales

Animosity towards immigrants can be accounted for the role of the economic gloom coupling with the number of migrants piling up at the border. They fear that these immigrants might become a burden living off state welfare, taking advantage of the social benefit thus draining on the countries’ resources.

People take a dim view of immigrants that they perceive as scroungers, thinking they will take jobs away from them as they readily take on low-paid jobs in their country. On the other hands, some people think that the government should think twice before refusing anyone, as diasporas might embody a tremendous economic asset.

That is the reason why, while studying migrant flows, people often talk about push and pull factors. Push factors discourage migrants from emigrating and pull factors prompt them to stay.

Push factors

Pull factors

  • Demographic and economic growth can be different in the host country or the home country
  • Different culture
  • Terrible working conditions, with jobs often degrading, dirty and dangerous (called the 3D)
  • Populist political parties
  • Developed countries are pictured as ideal, a real ” El Dorado ” with perfect, or at least better-living conditions
  • Diasporas with who migrants keep in touch, a real network in the host country
  • Some countries gave migrants advantages to prompt then to immigrate (the USA gives H1B visas to skilled migrant workers)
  • The host country can benefit from a cheaper or more qualified labour force or more demographic growth
  • Remittances sent to the home country

Moreover, international migrations can bring two main issues: the loss of qualified workers and acculturation (accommodation to the culture). Indeed, sometimes skilled people don’t find working opportunities in their country and prefer starting a career abroad. Thus, the home country loses a lot of high-qualified people who it could really benefit from, and the phenomenon is called the “brain drain“. Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult to be integrated into the host country. The latter can prompt migrants to abandon their culture and assimilate its culture, or it can respect its identity and put steps in place for a real integration while keeping everyone’s culture intact.

Relevant examples you can use to talk international migrations


  • Aylan Kurdi, a young Kurdish child found dead in a Turkish beach in 2015, rose public awareness about the migratory crises
  • The Rohingyas is a Muslim minority in Burma, a Buddhist country where they are considered as strangers and where they were victims of genocide and slaughter. They were for instance forced to go to Bangladesh, where they are also persecuted.
  • The Schengen agreement in the European Union eases European migrant flows, but the continent control other migrant flows.
  • Ceuta et Melilla, Spanish enclaves in Morocco, are often used by illegal migrants to reach Europe. Since 1993, they are surrounded by barbed wire fences


  • 1924: Immigration Act which favoured Northern Europe, Western Europe and Central America’s migrant flows
  • 2006: Secure Fence Act is an act which allows the construction of a border between Mexico and the USA, called “la barda”, to avoid illegal migrant flows coming from central and south America. Wetbacks is a word which designates Mexican migrants who crossed the frontier illegally by swimming across the Rio Grande (between the USA and Mexico).
  • 2017: President Trump drafted a presidential decree called the Muslim ban which prohibits the entry in the USA territory if a person is from Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iran, Somalia and North Korea. It has been approved by the Supreme Court in 2018.
  • Contrary to the Republicans, Democrats are often seen as a political party in favour of immigration and welcoming, they rely on Hispanic voters. However, the fact that they are very lenient when it comes to immigration is a myth: for instance, Obama deported more illegal immigrants than his predecessors.


  • 1962: Commonwealth Immigration Act which limited the entry of people from Commonwealth Countries
  • 2004: Touquet treaty with France to reinforce border control, especially in Calais
  • The Windrush generation is a group of inhabitants from Caribbean countries, invited to work in the British Islands between 1948 and 1973 as Citizens of the UK and Colonies. They were needed to work in factories. Today, they want the right to remain in the UK territory but the law if firmer towards immigration and it is difficult for them to prove they had the right to stay.

Comment utiliser ces exemples dans des sujets du bac ?

Certains de sujets de baccalauréat comportent des textes et des sujets d’expression écrite en lien avec les migrations, l’intégration, les frontières. En voici quelques-uns :

  • 2015: Subject ES-S LV1 (Amérique du Sud): extract Funny in Farsi, Firoozeh Dumas, 2003 (Migrating from Iran)
  • June 2011: Subject ES-S LV1 (Métropole): extract from Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (Irish immigration)
  • September 2011: Subject ES-S LV1 (Métropole): extract from My friends, the illegal immigrants by Guillermo Arriaga (Mexican emigration / crossing the US border)

Example of a question: How necessary is it to speak the language of the host country to be integrated?

  • Keywords: socio-economic integration, host country, culture, diversity, discrimination
  • Issue: where is the limit between integration and the total loss of one’s cultural identity? (you can evoke British settlers who forced Aborigines to forget their culture and language)
  • Notions to use: Acculturation (Integration VS Assimilation), different culture as a “push factor”, the role of diasporas


How should a country behave towards immigration? The subject is really touchy and can create a lot of debates. It is really important to understand that all countries behave differently when it comes to migrations, especially according to the origin of the migratory flows.

Vocabulaire utile en lien avec les migrations internationales

  • migrant flows = flux migratoires
  • home country= pays natal
  • host country = pays d’accueil
  • network= réseau
  • labour force= main d’œuvre
  • remittance= remise / rétro-transferts d’argent
  • brain drain= fuite des cerveaux (expression : fuite des compétences)
  • scroungers= parasites
  • economic gloom= morosité économique
  • smuggler=passeur

N’oubliez pas de compléter cette fiche sur mes migrations internationales avec votre cours – les exemples donnés par votre professeur notamment. N’oubliez pas non plus de nuancer vos propos et de construire votre discours. Maintenant, à vous de jouer !

A lire aussi sur l’axe “Identité et Échange” : Globalisation and its effects

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