BY PROFESSOR WILLIAM A. DOUGLAS
POET LAUREATE EMERITUS
In every developing nation,
We see rural-to-urban migration
Some say the city’s lights lure with such charm,
That you can’t keep the peasants down on the farm.
But for migrants, city life’s not always pleasant—
It’s the lesser evil, for the migrating peasant.
In America, life can be risky and hard,
If a migrant lacks that important green card.
In China, when to the big city you go,
You have no rights, with no urban hukou.
Such migrants are stuck in a risky hiatus—
De facto, they’re urban, but without legal status.
With this torrent of migrants appearing within,
The city’s resources are stretched very thin.
There aren’t enough houses, or clinics, or schools,
Or electricity, sewerage, playgrounds, or pools.
On the hillsides the migrants in shanty-towns live,
Where life is hard, with few pleasures to give.
With urban life so rough and so grim,
Why do migrants keep wanting in?
The rural population’s continuously growing,
But there is no growth of land that’s worth sowing.
So, each year we see more peasants on hand,
But they can’t all be farmers, if some have no land!
And life in the country’s not always rewarding,
So the trains to the cities the migrants keep boarding.
Governments may try to stop the migrations,
With barriers and regulations.
China has the hukou, America a wall,
But the migratory wave slows hardly at all.
Some suggest reversing the flow:
The factories out to the peasants should go!
But this scheme of dispersed industrialization,
Is seldom applied in a developing nation,
Because it’s thought to be an abomination
To forgo the “economies of conglomeration.”
Since there is no way to hold back the tide,
The developing countries have got to provide
A better existence for those who arrive,
So they can live, and not just survive.
The migrants’ appeals for help must be heeded,
And, of course, more funding is needed.
The migrants are neither lazy nor moochers—
With a bit of help, they will build their own futures.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Majer