The issue of immigration is the natural outcome of mankind's drive and desire to seek out new lands and cultures. Whether it is the rigours of our native climate, religious belief or nothing more noble than curiousity, people have been undertaking often perilous migrations for as long as civilisation has been around.
Perhaps inevitably, people have found themselves not merely at the mercy of the elements, but any native populations they encounter. Clashes between natives and newcomers can probably be said to be as ancient as the time when the first modern humans bumped into their country-bumpkin cousins the Neanderthals in Northern Europe during its last period of major glaciation.
Our ancestors didn't just like different foods and come with their own culture and beliefs, but by most accounts 'ethnically cleansed' Europe of its natives. By our standards of successful integration, this would not be held up as a beacon of achievement, and anyone complaining today about the way in which immigrants are integrating into their society should thank their lucky stars.
It's easy to laugh at long-forgotten events from history, but most people think that problems really arise when it comes to the relatively modern idea of countries. We often think of our country's ideals and the supposed morality for which it stands. No surprise that we often view recent arrivals with a beady eye of resentment. They look different. They eat foods with zany ingredients. Sometimes, they even talk a different language.
In the not-so-distant past, immigration could be done by joining the crew of some ship or other, turning up somewhere else and setting up shop. But as the modern idea of the 'nation' grew from the 17th century (and right through to today), this easy-going attitude was replaced by ideas abotu control. Fuelled by the likes of Malthus, who believed that the world was running out of resources and that this would create chaos, governments created the first rudimentary legal instruments to limit immigration.
We're a long way past Malthus today. We know that our ability to get more from less grows with every year. We also have a more rounded view of what drives people to move across countries.
Despite these understandings, governments around the world continue to tighten their immigration laws. Perhaps more obviously, the Australian visa system has become almost crazily complex. New complexities creates new loopholes that the canny can use to their advantage. With better, more freer travel and communications, our borders are more porous than ever.
Perhaps its time we took a more understanding and open attitude to immigration.