The Atlantic

What Fiji Can Teach America About Immigration

Many people will invest in their own skills if they know that doing so will give them a shot at a better life overseas.
Source: Will Burgess / Reuters

The Republic of Fiji is perhaps best known as an earthly paradise, dotted with luxury beach resorts catering to the global elite. Yet Fijian history has a dark side to it. Since the colonial era, Fijian society has been divided between the country’s indigenous population, which is itself fragmented by status hierarchies, and Fijians of Indian origin, most of whom are the descendants of impoverished and illiterate indentured laborers brought to the islands more than a century ago. Intermarriage between these two groups remains exceptionally rare, and ethnic conflict between them, often over the control of land, has periodically erupted into rioting and constitutional crises.

Starting in 1987, Fiji saw a number of military coups d’état, in which indigenous Fijian military officers sought to curb the rising political power of the Indo-Fijian community, which was roughly equal in number to the indigenous Fijian population at the time. To entrench the superior status of the indigenous population, the post-coup government adopted a constitution that limited

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