Her research cuts through the usual moral hysteria and emotionality invoked by the idea of trafficking to radically revise discussions about migration and sexual labor. Both her blog (linked above) and her book contain rational assessments of an unfair world in which people exercise choice even when they have limited options; where citizens of developing countries, like citizens of developed countries, have an urge to see more of the world; and where a single story cannot usefully articulate the experience of multiple, diverse human beings. When it comes to her approach, she explains, “I am disposed to accept what people tell me, and believe in their ability to interpret their own lives.”
the point is that there can’t be numbers for the people being talked about here, who don’t register anywhere when they cross borders and who work off the books. I don’t think the Voice’s article will affect anything because previous ones didn’t – theVoice was not the first – or perhaps in the US but not elsewhere: been there, done that.
Shortly after I began to do formal research I understood that numbers are not obtainable for undocumented migration. I have reviewed several statistical methods that claim to make realistic estimates but am unconvinced, like many other scholars. However, the belief in numbers is a tenet of our time, and people can’t be persuaded that the correct data do not exist somewhere. The idea is that if we could know how many of every type of person there is we could somehow achieve justice for everyone – well, I don’t believe that, either.
But I also think it’s not useful to take debunking-talk to the point of talking about myths, as though there were no serious problems with migration. The conversations that are avoided through arguments about numbers are much harder: finding new kinds of migration policies and new visions of the so-called formal-informal economy divide.