Immigration — to be or not to be?

Mar 02,2017 – JORDAN TIMES – Jonathan Power

The great immigration debate has to become the great rethinking and restructuring debate.

Charlie Brown is right when he says “no problem is too big and complicated that it can’t be run away from”.

In both the US and the EU, the focus is increasingly on the problem of immigration.

President Donald Trump talks of them being criminals, drug traffickers and scroungers. And then he wants to build a very expensive wall on the border separating countries that for a long time have not countenanced war or terrorism against each other. (By the way, there is a funny Mexican joke: “Yes, it’s a good idea to build the wall — it will keep Trump out”!)

There are good reasons for allowing low-skilled immigrants in. (In this column I use the word “immigrants” to include refugees.)

Senior analyst and columnist Shikha Dalmia gave some good reasons why this should be so.

1. Americans are the customers of low-skilled immigrants, buying services from them, everything from hospital cleaning to childcare to repairs to the house.

2. These immigrants are mobile since they rent rather than own. So they can move to where the work is. Right now they are being encouraged to move to Detroit where much of the population has fled the city’s decay and the mayor is trying to revitalise it.

3. They are good for American and European women. Often nannies, they enable many women to work. Many of these are high skilled and therefore contribute a good deal to society.

4. Immigrants cost the state less than ordinary workers. They often fail to qualify for benefits. Of course, they cost the state when it comes to schooling or medical care, but then, they pay taxes (unless they are illegals).

5. They create jobs. They reduce the costs of production and make American or European goods more competitive with Latin American, Chinese, Indian and African exports.

Some economists argue that immigrants pull the wages of the host community down, but Dalmia says they have got it wrong. She says that it is a win-win situation, since immigration works to maximise the potential of the economy across the board. This lifts all boats.

6. As long ago as the 1960s, research work done in London made the point, supported by academic work today, that immigrants, apart from refugees, only journey to a country if they hear on the grape vine that lots of jobs are available. If not they do not come.

7. A 2005 World Bank report found that if the wealthier countries allowed a 3 per cent rise each year in the size of their labour forces through easier immigration, the gains to Third World countries over time would be about $300 billion.

Fully open borders would double the national income of the world in a few decades, virtually eliminating global poverty.

John Stuart Mill, the great 19th century economist, wrote that migration was “one of the primary sources of progress”.

Adam Smith also opposed restrictions on immigration.

Ironically, it was Karl Marx who seemed to be against immigration. He wrote that England’s decision to absorb the “surplus” Irishmen driven out by the famine was a ploy by the English bourgeoisie to “force down wages and lower the material and moral position of the English working class”.

But there are arguments for limiting the flow in the future.

If you fill an empty bottle with water, it is good stuff until it overflows. Then it no longer is useful to the drinker.

In my book “Conundrums of humanity: The big foreign policy questions of our day”, I argue that there are enough immigrants already (apart from refugees who should not be refused).

Those who readily argue for more are the middle and upper middle class who not only benefit from their jobs but enjoy the food and music that immigrants bring with them.

But it is the lower middle class and working class who often live cheek by jowl with immigrants. It is they who see their schools and health facilities become overcrowded.

1 reply

  1. Western colonial powers made a mess in Africa, the sub-continent and in the Middle East couple decades ago. The least they can do is to accept people from the countries they have robbed and ruined. The western countries which colonised the world .Yes it is a duty to give them back some pieces of what they have stolen !

    Most of Brits do not want immigration on this scale. That is shown by every poll. But at the same time they want someone to serve them in a bar and clean their hospitals and make cheap clothes. They want someone to drive them across town. Birth rate is declining and old population is on the rise. Migration is on the rise. Mass immigration has caused problems, but it is the fault of the politicians. In education, migrant communities should have their own state funded schools with their own teachers so that native teachers could concentrate on their own children. It is never too late to set up schools for different communities. Muslim community suffer more than others in the field of education.

    Fabio Capello, England Italian manager, needs only 100 English words to manage the English team effectively and could even earn more than £4 million for his work and paying a large amount of tax. Who says that he is not fully integrated. Similarly, an immigrant with few English words could find a job in British economy and contribute for the betterment for the British society by paying all sorts of taxes. There is no need to be well versed in English. Without migration, British society and economy would have bled to death. Immigrants improved the inner cities of Britain. According to DC, mass immigration has led to “discomfort and disjointedness” in neighbourhoods because some immigrants have been unwilling to integrate or learn English. Migrants have created wealth and jobs because Brits rely on welfare system. According to a study, migrants contributed about £6 billion to British economy. That is equivalent to a 1.5% cut in basic rate of tax. Immigrants are twice as likely to start a business as native brits. More then one in three of the doctors gained their medical degree from abroad. Without them NHS would grind to halt. One in ten students in British universities come from non-EU and they pay much higher tuition fees than native Brits. Without them British Universities would go bust. This means that there will be no end to immigration in the near future, because of the ageing population and low birth rates. Britain had ” benefited immeasurably” from immigration.

    We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference – different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge’s schools have reached their highest levels since record begin.

    Your car is German. Your vodka is Russian. Your pizza is Italian. Your kebab is Turkish. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Brazilian. Your movies are American. Your tea is Tamil. Your shirt is Indian. Your oil is Saudi Arabian. Your electronics are Chinese. Your numbers are Arabic, your letters Latin. And you complain that your neighbour is an immigrant? Pull yourself together!

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