On Immigration and Change

Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on balancing the amazing benefits of immigration with the atavistic, xenophobic objections.

Except for a few countries in the world (New Zealand, Norway, Australia, Canada and Sweden) that have managed to come up with development-inducing immigration policies, the rest are mostly unsuccessfully attempting to bring together demands from the local population to control immigration and development needs for human resources including cheap pools of labor.

And so far, the attempts have been rather unfortunate as they either fall prey to segregationism targeting given human groups as undesirable or promote liberal theories according to which every human being has the right to work where and when he or she desires.

These two lines of thought feed each other. Liberalism causes the local population whose jobs are threatened by migrants to react demanding tougher controls. Militarization of borders ensues and this nurtures liberal activism.

And both clutter the airwaves and social media with radical messages that do not allow a rational discussion of immigration as a development input which should be the departure point to build a sound, flexible and technology savvy immigration policy.

Truth be told, globalization and its corrosive impact upon the nation state’s institutional framework demands an in-depth look at immigration policies throughout the world and most probably a reshuffle or closing of the U.N. migration related bodies to leave the matter under study and management of the International Migration Organization.

This exercise which I am sure will soon be triggered by the announced changes in U.S. immigration policy needs to depart from two premises.

First and utmost, while nation states are challenged by centrifugal forces arising from globalization, people are going to seek survival through migration. It is thus far more economically sensible for the international community to spend time and money preventing violence to erupt in any given country than holding staunchly to the principle of nonintervention á la mexicane.

Once a violent conflict erupts in whatever country it is, the landing path is cleared to those groups that thrive with illicit trade.

From arms trade to money laundering springing from drug and human traffic and corruption to provision of death squads, illicit activities flourish under conditions of generalized violence. Once these criminal associations take hold, return to ante bellum status demands military action. This is crystal clear in at least Afghanistan.

The second aspect of modern migration is establishing what could be dubbed the worldwide learning circle.

Most countries in the world nowadays have tertiary education institutions. But none have institutions that promote innovation.

Innovation is a very complex process but can spring and be nurtured by an institutional framework the promotes the emergence of a conducive micro-climate. Promoting innovation is key to growth both in developed as well as developing nations.

One conduit to promote innovation is migratory policy. Should young engineers, mathematicians and scientists from developing nations be allowed on temporary basis to work in the ST&E, strong institutions of developed countries two growth inducing impacts could materialize.

First cost of research and development would lower in the developed country. Second, upon return to his or her mother country, the young professional will bring innovative ideas to insert into academia, industry or government (the Samuel Slater effect). This would create a virtuous circle for development. And, as development proceeds, violence will subside and people will stay in their home countries which seems to be the desire of most people in the developed world.

Published by LAHT.com on Monday August 7th, 2017

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