Immigration is not believed to be the source of terrorism, according to new research from the University of Warwick. On the contrary, the study found that more migration could create a decrease in terrorist attacks, rather than an increase.
The report, Does Immigration Include Terrorism?, was published in the Journal of Politics and is based on analysis of terrorism in migration flows between 145 countries between 1970 and 2000. It found that migrants bring new skills, knowledge and perspectives to the country they arrive in, which stimulates technological innovation and, in turn, stimulates economic growth.
Vincenzo Bove, associate professor at the University's politics department, said: "Our findings shouldn't be surprising. If we subscribe to the belief that economic development is linked to a decrease in extremism then we should expect an increase in migration to have a positive effect."
Bove and co-author Tobias Bohmelt from the University of Essex measured the average number of terror attacks in a country in a given year and took into consideration the level of migration to identify whether there was a link between the two. They established that countries with the highest level of exposure to the diffusion of terrorism are those with migrants from regions with high terrorism incidents.
While ruling out migration as a direct cause of terrorism, the study indicated that migration could be a driver of terrorism in some circumstances. The report found that there was an increase in terrorism in countries that accepted migrants from places where terrorism was rampant. Countries that accepted migrants from places with low levels of terrorism activity did not suffer a large amount of terrorist attacks themselves.
Despite this, the research highlighted that only a small minority of migrants from high-terrorism countries could be associated with an increase in terrorism. When they were associated with it, it was often in an indirect way. Researchers explained that discriminate immigration laws on terror-prone countries was not advisable as security agencies would fail to identify the "organisers of terrorism".
Bove explained: "Terrorist organisations often exploit migrant networks and migrant communities as a recruitment pool. We hope that policymakers will not enforce immigration laws in an indiscriminate way as this may lead to the loss of the positive impact of migration."