In the Republic, Rambus Thrace lived in a one-room apartment along with his wife and two children. He spent twelve hours a day working a security detail at a nearby warehouse in order to provide for his family. Since immigrating to the Federation a year ago, he has found employment in a spaceship electronics factory, earned enough money to bring his wife and children to the Federation with him, and lives in a modest apartment with two bedrooms, a separate bathroom, and a kitchen.
Thrace's story mirrors that of many Minmatar immigrants to the Federation, who come seeking a better life for themselves and their families. "We come for the opportunity," said Plagen Tek, who was at an immigration office seeking an extension to his visa. "In the Republic, there is no opportunity." Upon arriving in the Federation under a work permit six months ago, Plagen immediately found work in a planetary vehicles factory, work he was familiar with in the Republic. But the conditions were vastly different.
"In the Republic, I didn't know if I'd still have a job the next week. I didn't know if the factory would still be open. I didn't know if I'd be mugged walking back to my home. Or even worse, killed." Plagen says the point where he decided to leave the Republic came after a neighbour was beaten nearly to death after a local gang mistook him for a rival booster dealer. "I knew then that it could happen to me. I had to get out before it was too late."
For many immigrants into the Federation, the difference between it and the Republic are like night and day. "Everything here is so clean. The police are friendly and open. I haven't had to argue with my employer about the hours I worked or how much pay I was due once since I arrived," said Thrace. "My children are able to attend a proper school. In the Republic, they went to a school that used outdated laboratory equipment that barely works. Their teachers were ill-trained and barely knew the subjects they taught! It was a shame."
While the conditions the average immigrant lives in pales in comparison to the average Gallente citizen, most of the immigrants don't seem to mind. "My apartment here is twice the size of where I lived in the Republic," said Plagen. "With a few more years of work, I might be able to afford my own house."
This is exemplified by Dach Nerraw, whose family has been in the Federation for three generations. Though Brutor by birth, Nerraw considers himself Gallente first and foremost. "When my grandfather came to the Federation seventy-five years ago, he was destitute and barely educated. Through a lot of hard work in a tungsten mine, he made enough money to buy a home, start a family, and give his children opportunities he never had. The Federation is my home. I might not check Gallente on the computerized census registry, but I certainly feel more Gallente than I feel Minmatar. Don't get me wrong, I respect my heritage and still observe all of the rituals. I took the Voluval when I came of age, just like every other Minmatar. But the Federation took my family in with open arms. And it only feels right to return the affection."
Nerraw, a risk analyst for Pend Insurance, expects his future children to be even better off than him. "My own father made enough money to send me to a good college. Now I don't have to work in the factories or mining colonies. And my children, once I settle down and have a few, can go even better. Maybe even become a corporate CEO in the Federation. That'd be something."
New Minmatar immigrants to the Federation find their opportunities much greater than in the Republic. The lack of native workers filling blue collar jobs has opened up the pathway for immigrants to immediately find work in the Federation. For Plagen, it was a totally new experience. "In the Republic, we had to fight for jobs. Here, the jobs fight for us. I applied for three different factory jobs and all three wanted to hire me. I wasn't sure what to do. Luckily, one of my neighbours had immigrated several years ago and offered me some advice on how to handle it."
The Federation allows more immigrants in than ever before, but millions are still turned away each year. "I was able to get in on the first try," said Tek, "but I know some people who were turned away. They either had minor criminal records or had other red flags. What the Federation doesn't understand is that in the Republic, turning to crime is sometimes the only way to survive. Stealing, dealing drugs, prostitution... These aren't things people want to do, but they have no other choice. If they were allowed into the Federation, they would be model citizens."
Many economists and labor officials agree with Tek. Faced with a rising labor shortage, many see the only solution as loosening the restrictions on immigrants. "Immigrant workers already fill the vast majority of blue collar jobs in the Federation," said Serge LaFleur, an economist with the University of Caille. "But we still have a huge shortage. The best solution is to allow more immigrants into the Federation. These immigrants are happy to fill these jobs and provide a huge boost to the Federation's economy. Just because some have had problems in the past, we shouldn't offer them opportunities to turn their lives around? It certainly doesn't mesh with the Federation's ideals. Will a few problems slip through? Of course. But it's a risk we have to take for the good of our future."
According to Plagen, that doesn't go far enough. "The Federation should pay to transport interested people here. Many people can't afford the cost of transportation, much less finding a home before they've started receiving their pay. If they funded the move, they'd see their work shortage dry up overnight. They should consider it an investment that will pay dividends a thousand times over."