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The case for immigration

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B. Hotchkiss

There is little question that the migration of capable people from poor countries to rich ones benefits the former, and the overall economy of the world, by giving them access to resources that increase their productivity. However, it directly harms the countries that lose these people, ameliorated only by the extent to which these countries eventually share in an increased global productivity.
The importation of unskilled labor often presents a different situation. It is said that immigrants are necessary to perform jobs no citizens will do. There are very few jobs that won't find takers -- at a price. The difficulty is whether the price will allow the products to be produced, or the services to be provided, at a cost the public is willing to pay. There is a question, though, whether society ought to encourage the continuation of, or be concerned about the disappearance of, products and services whose existence depends on substantial income inequality between the consumers of these goods and services and those who produce them.


I'm not sure why TE needs an essay piece on immigration.
The majority is in favor of legal immigration in many countries.
Except for the Saudis, Iranians, Japanese, Myanmar, etc.
China loves immigration so much, it swallowed up Tibet!
(Maybe that's Mexico's secret plan too!)

Swiss Reader

The solution is to be liberal towards accepting immigrants who want to do honest work in order to have a better life, but at the same time ultra-conservative in insisting that the newcomers should adapt to social norms in their host country. I trust that a majority of people (except some hard-boild racists) won't mind living next to somebody who looks different, provided he earns his keep, behaves well and learns the local language.

ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

SR, That's right!!
It is not even that hard to tease out the ones who want to do honest work and are more than willing, indeed eager, to assimilate, from the ones who are true " bad elements" who immigrate with malevolent design for the host country.
In the case of US (I don't know EU and UK) , a citizenship test tests for basic English skill and knowledge of the laws of the country. If a prospective immigrant flunks the test, he/she is not "admitted". Many immigrants to US, whether from Mid East, Near East or Far East, know the US Constitution better than some "hard-boiled racists", who track their own ancestry to immigrants from 2 or 3, or max 4, generations ago (i.e., when US first established independence from Gt. Britain - 1776, in the years of the Big Irish Famine - 1845-1852, and before Holocaust camps with gas showers were set up in Germany - circa time before WWII. ) Remember US is only 242 year old counting from July 4, 1776. The exam is a FACT. If not believed, just check out the Q's on the US Citizenship Exam. I guarantee you many hard-boiled racists of the KKK sort will not pass it; perhaps that's why they hate new immigrants so much - not only do the immigrants get their jobs from high tech to low labor, they know the US Constitution better.

Swiss Reader in reply to ashbird

Hi ashbird, good to see you back! It's always a two-way street. In my existence as an economic migrant (aka "expat") in China, I always found it's an enormous advantage to be seen as appreciating the local culture and striving to learn the language. A colonial air of superiority wouldn't go far! In the same way, a newcomer to Europe or the US who wishes to be well received shouldn't arrogantly insist on the attitudes of the Arabian desert.

ashbird in reply to Swiss Reader

It's wonderful to hear from you, Swiss Reader, even for a brief chat!
Yes, two-way street it is!!
I think for a newcomer to any place, there is also a practical reason to appreciate the local culture, besides learning the language as much as possible and as in-depth as possible, down to all observable minutiae. The reason is as self-serving as it is out of respect for the local people. The self-serving part is it makes life easier!!
In any case, what is there not to appreciate? People are basically the same everywhere - they all need to eat when hungry, clothed when it is cold, and a roof over the head when it rains. Sure, people do things a thousand different ways, depending on so many different factors - climate, terrain, resources from the Earth, to name just a few, so that all cultures have their unique history and corresponding baggage, with the good, the bad, and the indifferent in it. But when all the exterior differences are stripped away, we all look the same in our underwear. At least this is what all the sages through the ages have said. You know, folks given the name "Humanists".
Your wise words in your last sentence is a good reminder to me not to come across over-done arrogant on TE pages myself. I am very arrogant. Terribly so nowadays. I never was that way, not raised to be that way. My father would spank me all the way from his grave if he found out. The years of "special training" on TE have given me the tools I need to do my version of pre-emptive strike, as a matter of survival, against weirdos in a public forum who are plain and simple racists [ This is only spoken to you, for true KKK racists resent being identified as such. In fact, true KKK racists would start cursing in language that contains unspeakable prurient obscenity, ad hominem]. To fend them off, I've learned to be maximally arrogant, as obnoxious as I could make it. You should know, of all people, I don't mean to be obnoxious.
The attitude of Arabian desert is a King-size self-defeater. As you also would know, it is none other than SunTze of the Art of War who figured it out that it is important to know one's enemy (these days, perceived enemy) equally as one knows oneself. A desert way knows neither the self nor the enemy (or perceived enemy). The attitude (due to no water and only mirage of water for real water) is good only for growing dates, not much else. And Man cannot live on dates alone, even with plenty of oil. Hope you are enjoying your piano playing. Good news tidbit - Barenboim has a new contract with Deutsch Gramophone which takes only the best of the best. See, not all news in the world are gloomy.
PS: Yes, I am back. I am fully back. :)


Western economies of the 2010s have practically no capacity to absorb migrants. Jobs which require no qualifications are already filled by locals. The same is true with middle class jobs. There is a demand for limited highest skilled jobs, but numerically it is few people. And even fewer such skilled people actually want to migrate. If somebody makes comparison with migrant waves like European Jews to the USA a century ago, he is ignorant about the modern economy.


I live in San Diego, CA. I see the real application of the US's messed up immigration policy. Our policy is based on a 'wink & nod' immigration. We need the labor so we don't ask questions when someone applies in the Restaurant, Construction, Landscape, Agriculture, Home Care, fields. It is not just low skill jobs either. There are a huge number of students, scholars and others who overstay their visas to live and work in the US for decades. So we wink and nod and pretend we didn't see that. This allows us to enjoy low prices for goods and services. For the immigrants, in many cases they are in virtual slavery because they dare not complain about wage theft, unsafe working conditions, limited access to healthcare, or abusive bosses. We wink & nod about this as well. As long as the work needed for our grant application is done on time, our lawn is mowed, our favorite restaurant is reasonably priced we don't care about the welfare of the workers. Americans have become slave owners and we should acknowledge that.

ashbird in reply to Bruce1253

So much in what you pointed out is FACTUAL in REALITY.
And don't forget the wipers of bedsores in state-run nursing homes. Stage III and IV bedsores (where the sores - flesh rots - have grown to the muscle and bone of the spine and maggots live there) have a stench few could tolerate. If you live in San Diego, CA, you will notice many of these "wipers" are illegals from Mexico and Latin America working for below minimum wages. "Turn the eyes and don't look" is pretty much the way with the "slave owners".
You are brave to voice your acknowledgement of this travesty. Some will say you are deeply "UNPATRIOTIC".


Immigration cannot be uncontrolled. When what comes in exceeds what the people in the host culture can tolerate, there will be chaos
The point is a qualitative one. The measure is a quantitative one.

Andruze in reply to ashbird

I agree. A level of control gives governments the ability to plan infrastructure for the increase in population and time for the first generation to assimilate with the resident population.

ashbird in reply to Andruze

Yes!! In both fiscal and human terms, it is simply infeasible to have open immigration.
If the existing infrastructure is fracturing under the weight of uncontrolled immigration, the natives get angry. An angry citizenry is not a good sight to behold, nor practical.
In human terms, the same. There is no resentment more heinous than resentment directed at new immigrants who, in most cases, are NOT welfare moochers but, for unsubstantiated reasons, assumed to be. They are willing to work and offer what they could to the host country. Certainly there are exceptions, but the exceptions do not swallow up the entire class of "immigrants".


So no answers to the question, however well framed it's been asked, aye TE? My father once told me that if you gave everyone on earth $1,000 at the same time by the end of the day there would be many people who had nothing and a few who had $1,000,000. In one sentence, that describes the fallacy of equality and pernicious ambition of human activity ... to be fair, often in the service of the greater good and/or the greater profit. Restricting immigration is indeed a dilemma, yet we ought not to stop striving for the elimination of hunger and poverty around the world, that by bringing the very poor higher it benefits all. If intelligent immigration policies contributes towards that end through repatriation back to those very poor countries, then it is a good that needs to be embraced and the clarion cry of those who would stop all immigration must be confronted.


The reason certain nations and peoples are richer and more succesful than others is because of the genetic stock of the people who inhabit this place. Genetics and average IQ determines economic succes bringing the third world, say Africa, to Europe would turn Europe into Africa not Africans into Europeans. All the developing nations a huge part had functioning systems with strong rule of law. This was created by European colonial regimes. Then Europeans de-colonized after WW2 under pressure from the US and Soviet Union and we have the chaos we see now. Look at Zimbabwe look at South Africa prime examples that it is not merely a question of having equal access to resources. The socio-economic disparities between different peoples remain regardless of location. All studies done on "diversity" show that it only has negative consequences , undermines social cohesion the most "diverse" neighborhoods are those with the most problems and the most "diverse" schools are those with the worst results. The reason you see the US fall off a cliff in terms of educationial results is not because the schools got worse. It is the students they have to work with that cause worse results. Also students with above average IQ's do worse when placed in such a "diverse" class so everyone loses out.

Durendal in reply to Durendal

Another good example are the Gulf states they are fabulously wealthy but it is only due to their fossil fuel resources. The populations themselves are very unproductive and what productivity exists tends to be due to expats.

Durendal in reply to Durendal

Also people born in developed nations do not start at zero our ancestors build and sacrificed for us so we could have a better life. We benefit from all their investments which they made for their children and childrens children. When an African arrives he has never paid for anything he uses. No road,no school no bus no nothing. He costs the natives an enormous amount something he is very unlikely to pay off during his working life. They take out of the system more then they put in and due to their inferior genetics also undermine the future prosperity of the society as well.

MagicMoneyFrog in reply to Durendal

"The reason certain nations and peoples are richer and more succesful than others is because of the genetic stock of the people who inhabit this place. "
North Korea and South Korea have essentially identical genetic stock. South Korea is rich and North Korea is poor. Maybe economic policies have more to do with economic success than genetics?
"The reason you see the US fall off a cliff in terms of educationial results is not because the schools got worse. It is the students they have to work with that cause worse results. "
There is no evidence that educational (which you spelled wrong) results are getting worse. The quality of the USA's educational system relative to some other nations is getting worse because they are pursuing better educational policies. In the PISA rankings USA ranks 40th in Math, 25th in Science, and 24th in Reading. Relative to other Western countries, the American students are average at Science and Reading and a bit below average in Math. This is pretty much what we should expect. There is not much extraordinary about the American education system relative to other Western countries and we certainly neglect math compared to some other countries.
Also consider that in the PISA rankings the UK ranks 27th in Math, 15th in Science, and 22nd in Reading. Vietnam ranks 22n in Math, 8th in Science, and 32nd in reading. Are you going to say that this is evidence that the Vietnamese are genetically superior to the British (despite being a middle income country) or evidence that Vietnam simply has a better education system?


Why the article (and the fantastic book it describes) concern only Third World people appearing in the First World? If it was justifiable, then by symmetry, it is equally justifiable for the First World to move in and colonize Third World.


One question not raised in this article is what makes a country rich? Then, at what level of migration do the factors that made it rich become diluted or nullified to the extent that it is no longer rich? Perhaps then an appropriate level of migration can be calculated.

This calculus will be different for ever destination country and every type of migrant.

Also, from a moral standpoint, is an economic migrant much different from a refugee?


TE : How they can do this without jeopardising their own democracies is one of the hardest questions facing liberals today.
No, they cannot. Neither is it their responsibility.