A mother and her children enter a temporary camp for Syrian refugees in Germany. Dresden, Germany, July 27, 2015.  (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

A mother and her children enter a temporary camp for Syrian refugees in Germany. Dresden, Germany, July 27, 2015. (Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

As migration tops the foreign policy agenda of leading nations, one expert says we need to leave behind the idea of migrants as being a negative factor. “We need to move the debate about migration from one of common identity to one of common values,” said William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration. “We need to help people and governments understand the contribution that migrants can make.”

Speaking to International Peace Institute Senior Adviser Warren Hoge, Mr. Swing said that historically, migration has been an overwhelmingly positive element in the lives of countries, as migrants bring new ideas and incentives and create jobs.

“It’d be hard to say that migrants are not agents of development, which they certainly have been in most of the multiethnic, multicultural countries of the world,” he noted, “but a lot depends on the warmth of our welcome and our ability to integrate them.”

Mr. Swing praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for publicly saying that migration is the defining issue of her time as chancellor and agreeing to take in tens of thousands of Syrians, more than all the rest of the other 27 member states of the European Union together.

“We need more voices like that who recognize the importance of managing the migration flows in a responsible, humane, and dignified manner,” he said. Read more