Open Borders for the Educated and Skilled?

I am not a fan of completely open borders, because if we did, then everyone who lived in a crappy country would come here all at once, and the institutions of the country would be overwhelmed. But it’s hard for me to see why we’re not letting people like this into the country. It seems to me we could take Europe’s best and brightest, given opportunity on that continent is fast diminishing. Plus, what better way to solve the housing problem than low interest rates combined with people with high paying jobs who suddenly need a place to live in their new country. It’s hard to see the downside of this.

11 thoughts on “Open Borders for the Educated and Skilled?”

  1. The downside is that these are the people who vote and are politically active in their native lands. They voted for socialism in Europe, I’m perfectly happy to have them come here and make a life, but I’m worried that they’re going to bring their failed political ideals with them.

  2. Actually, there already are ways to let people like this in, for example through H1B (work visas) and with a way to obtain green cards and later citizenship, if they are able to find a job and keep it. I have a very direct experience with this.

    As for bringing failed political ideas, the ones who understand that it was those ideas that caused the economic and political failure, and that forced them to leave their home country, they are unlikely to vote for the same ideas. Those who don’t understand … so, it’s a gamble.
    My background, growing up under the Soviet system, was a great anti-leftist immunization, making me unlikely to ever vote for anything socialist/liberal/leftist, whatever name it shows up under.

  3. … but I’m worried that they’re going to bring their failed political ideals with them.

    That’s always a danger of a refugee or transplant. They never seem to comprehend why their homeland was so bad, and they always try to make the new home just like the old home.

  4. I seem to remember a poll that was taken in India, and it had a fairly high sample rate, and that something like 80% of the people answering the poll said that if the USA had unlimited immigration, that they would move to the USA. Can you imagine 80% of the people in India suddenly deciding to move here?

  5. @Dixie: never and always are very big words :)
    @robert: that’s actually an interesting econ 101 exercise. So, the assumption is that we would have let’s say 800 million people moving into the country that today has say 307 million, over the course of let’s say 10 years, 80 million a year. What would happen? Which industries will expand/collapse and make/lose money, which sectors will open/lose more jobs, which government entitlement programs will collapse, and whether and at which point the increase in cost of housing and unemployment will make the immigration unattractive and stop it?

  6. @ Starik:

    10 years? I’d say more like 3-4. Either way, our national identity would be changed, even if the immigration was stopped after the first 50 million or so.

    And of course, that’s only counting India. There’s a whole lot of other populations out there that would up and move at the drop of a hat, if we had such a policy.

  7. @robert: I think the national identity was never really a constant, it was changing with every new wave of immigration.

    The question is, how radical would this change be. If we assume that immigration wave would stop after 50 million, about 14% of people in this country would be new immigrants. More, actually, since this would be in addition to existing immigration from other countries. Is this a percentage that a society can absorb without significant change to its identity, but rather with the kind of small evolutionary changes that previous waves of immigration resulted in? Probably not. Especially considering that new immigrants would probably not settle evenly across the territory, but would concentrate in the areas where their skills are more likely to be employed, bringing percentage of new immigrants in those areas much, much higher. That’s pretty obvious.

    It’s also pretty obviously a bad thing. Any group that shares an identity, be it a project team or a nation, can only absorb a certain amount of new people without destructive effects to its culture and identity.
    My questions were more about what would happen to economy than to culture and identity. Another interesting question is what global effects this would have, how it would affect standard of living, wages and other factors, and through them current globalization trends.
    Interesting topics to discuss, but I’m pretty sure, not very fun topics to live through, should they become reality.

  8. @Starik

    Yes, they would concentrate in select areas, and also change the political layout of the nation. Much higher populations in certain areas would cause redistricting, new seats in state governments and US congress, and election of people supporting their views and culture. A massive change hot only in economics, but political and cultural as well.

    I agree, this would not be a good thing to go through. Past immigrations were over a longer period of time, where the influx had a chance to mix well.

  9. I don’t think you’re talking about a huge number of people here. Not nearly enough, I would think, to create a worry about their effect on the political layout.

  10. @Sebastian:
    Well, you and Robert are talking about slightly different things, of course. Your original post was about “best and brightest”, which I agree with, see my first comment. Robert was talking about complete open borders scenario, where 80% of India’s population would try to immigrate…
    Of course, in the “best and brightest” scenario, the effect on political layout is unlikely to be higher than in any previous wave of immigration.

  11. The problem is that a lot of those in Greece that can’t find work majored in the same useless and/or over-saturated fields that the unemployed kids in this country chose. Hell, this is a culture that has rotted to the point that the most appealing characteristic in a man for most women in that country is if he has a government job.

    I’m not worried that they’ll bring their failed ideas. That’s a given. I’d just be worried that they’d come and then complain just as hard over here that they can’t find work.

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