What would happen if we deregulated immigration?

OK, I’ve been trying to debate the ‘Le Pen phenomena’ from a somewhat global perspective for two days now, and we keep on getting back to immigration. So, if that’s what it has to be; why don’t we just go full on into it?

Let’s just for arguments sake say that we open up all the borders and let whoever live wherever they want. Thereby not saying that freedom of movement would be absolute and uncontrolled. Say for instance that we restrict it only based on a clean criminal record and proof that you will be able to sustain living at 25% above poverty standard. BTW, when I say clean criminal record I would exempt thought crimes and political crimes pinned on people by rogue or autocratic governments. Refugees would not have to prove sustainable income.

What would happen?

Would the world fall apart?

Would rape, murder and theft skyrocket to the point of anarchy?

Would it be chaos at first and then balance out?

Would it solve many of our problems even, such as sustainable growth?

Could it balance out the North-South divide and eliminate poverty?

Or would it make no difference?

You see my theory is that people generally don’t move if they don’t have the prospect of winging it in the place they go to, or if they aren’t driven to move due to threats to their lives or starvation, in which case they are refugees, which has to be dealt with differently.

I know that the popular belief is that an economy can only sustain so much and in the Western World we have already reached the limit. I have to question that though on simple observation, on the fact that we overproduce and consume inefficiently, and based on the above theory.

The only known instance of organized immigration like this that I can think of is the US at the turn of the 19th and 20th century, and that worked out pretty well even if there eventually was a point were regulation became rigid.

Now please do remember that this is hypothetical and I know that due to inherent xenophobia and racism this would probably ignite the ‘ethnic conflict powder keg’ and it wouldn’t work in practice even if it could in theory. I’d like to hear the theoretical views.

Well, the restrictions you suggest are stricter than the U.S.'s immigration controls in the 19th Century. And immigration then destroyed the U.S.


Not too long ago many people in Europe were saying the common market would be a disaster but it is turning out pretty well.

I know your OP refers to opening up wordlwide but I would say that right now there is absolutely no defensible or reasonable reason why North America and Europe and other countries of similar standard of living and culture should not open their borders mutually to their citizens. It would result in no mass migrations or economic problems of any kind and would yield great benefits. I know of Americans in Europe and Europeans in America who have to resort to working and living illegally which is just ridiculous.

Surely you meant to write created the U.S.!?!?

Different times, different needs. It is my deep conviction that people all over the place were convinced that in America ‘anyone’ could make it well and beyond 25% above ‘poverty level’. In any case, how do you define poverty level in relation to average income in mid-industrial revolution Europe and post colonial America… a negative figure plus 25% of itself remains a negative figure. The criminal part is obviously different.

I’ll be honest though, I set the level pretty high in the OP to avoid getting bogged down in too many “I dun want nun to cum here on welfare, stealin’ ma hard earnt tax muny and rapin ma women folks” discussions.

What about more open immigration - giving renewable five-year residency (like Australia does) but not citizenship immediately - but where the migrant could be deported without right of return if they were committed of a crime in their new home country?

It’s called sarcasm, Sparculees. :smiley:

I’m a huge fan of open (or as open as possible) immigration. I recognize that wholly open immigration is a political impossibility, and I’m sure someone could convince me that, over a certain percentage of the host country’s population per year, immigration is a bad thing by causing severe economic dislocations - essentially hyperinflation in the labor pool. While I don’t like them, I understand the political need for the income restrictions and the like you note, and would support them as a necessity.

But other than that, especially in the aging societies of the West and Japan, immigration is both good and necessary. I do think that there should be restrictions on immigrants after they arrive - some time period before being eligible for welfare and I endorse istara’s* “commit a crime and you’re out” rule, though I would limit that to felonies and violent misdemeanors.


Glad to hear that…for a moment I thought that evil extra terrestrials had stolen away with the mind of what I had perceived to be one of the bastions of reason at SMDB on issues like the one at hand.

Amen sailor, I keep on wondering about this one… Is there really any part of the majority that opposes this or are there other political motives behind it. Could it be that this is an issue for such a small portion of the electorate that its not worth coughing up the political cred chits it would cost to engage the issue, or could it be that it’s just too controversial and would lead to more popular immigration restriction being questioned?

Whatever the reason it’s a real hassle for us that stand with one foot in each culture and it would certainly enough make economic sense to allow freedom of movement between The States and The Union.

Obviously anyone strongly nationalistic would see this as yet another erosion of independence, while what they really mean is loss of isolation.

Open borders, open borders. It beckons the question:

What is a national border? Is it ethnically defined? Is it a geographic line? Is it a purely political division?

Aright, so it’s a bit of all of the above. Hence geopolitical. What we’re defending by erecting borders are resources. Essentially, a border is a protective measure that maintains an abundance of resources for a population within a given area. The human being is a labor resource whose value can be measured by the skill set he or she possesses. It may be a vague measurement but roughly speaking: how many yards of diplomas can you come up with?

Now, all resources have a cost associated to extracting, processing and deploying them. It goes for iron ore, it goes for humans. Humans eat, shit and sleep and need to be continuously upgraded in their know-how. Essentially, human beings are freakin’ expensive. But man, when they hit the big jackpot, they’re worth the freakin investment! I take the H1 visa in the U.S. For those who don’t know: the H1 Visa is a conditional visa that allows you to reside in the U.S. as long as you maintain employment. It’s meant for skilled labor (such as programmers). And of course, if you can prove that your exceptionally talented, the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services) will willingly whip up a green card for you! But after a resource (event the most talented) arrives at JFK, she starts spending other resources. Sometimes even, despite her best efforts, she lands on the dole after a few years and starts collectin’ those evil food stamps for a while (at least if she arrived prior to 1996 or manages to support herself for five years and cashes in on that citizenship).

Summa summarum: we need to balance the cost of maintaining human beings versus their value for the common good. We? Chucks, we’re back at the border thing. Who is We the People? We, The Anointed, the Citizens…

And the Pledge of Allegiance thing, forget it. How many Americans have sworn whole heartedly (I say whole heartedly!) before the powers that be that they will protect the Constitution. And if they so swear, they swear to uphold the unalienable rights of every human born to this world. Every human! “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” All men! Aright, so women aren’t created equal but what’s new… Anyway, every person! Every person! And add on top of that the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and the bonanza gets even larger. Even if the U.S. Congress hasn’t ratified it, let’s not forget the U.S. pushed hard for it (hats off, Mrs.Rossevelt).

We the People, a very fuzzy set indeed! I say, citizens aren’t only those that swear before the flag to protect the Other. We are all citizens, regardless of where, why and to whom we were born and we all have inalienable rights. Freedom of movement is one of them. Why? Because We needs You. Because resources are only good when in flux. Because a land trying to separate itself in a world where the Rule of Law scrambles to keep up with a borderless digital realm is a doomed land. Borders? I say, scrap the whole concept…

Yeah I fail to see how any European and English-speaking countries could really suffer from heavily dropping their entry requirements.

I would simplify skilled migration to:
(1) being competently fluent in the native language of the new home country
(2) having a university degree or vocational training equivalent
OR (3) having worked full-time for 2 out of the last 3 years
(4) not letting anyone claim unemployment benefit until they have worked for at least 12 months full-time in new country (and probably longer)
(5) having no serious criminal convictions

How many people fitting those criteria are likely to become an economic drain on a country? How many graduates and people who already have a good work ethic genuinely intend to up sticks to another country and just live off the dole? Not that many, I would guess.

When I was in Australia, I met as many Australians frustrated by not being able to just go and work in the UK as I did Brits that just wanted to go and work in Australia for a number of years.

The main point being: if a “foreigner” is able to get a job offer in another country, (a) the employer should be free to easily employ them, and (b) they are presumably as good as or probably better than a native candidate from that country (or why wouldn’t they have got the job offer instead?)

I’m not say lower the requirements, I’m saying get rid of them!!!

In practical terms, you would see (IMO):

  • an acceleration of the trend whereby the US becomes less and less anglo, especially in the southwest. California, Texas, etc would become primarily Spanish/Catholic

  • a drop in average per capita wealth as more and more unskilled people turned up. Probably a big drop in the cost of labor. Bad news for the existing factory workers and manual workers, but great news if (say) you want to hire a maid, waiting staff, etc

  • a generation down the road, a major economic boom as the children of these new immigrants graduate from school and enter the economy, having been raised better than their native counterparts (the most impressive thing about 1st generation immigrants, IMO, is their commitment to educating their kids to have a better life).

It’s no surprise that labor unions are such isolationsists.

When I think of Sao Paolo or Kibera, I may have been a little hasty in my proclamation to “drop the requirements entirely”. Suddenly abbolishing immigration requirements could produce some major short-term problems for cities like New York, L.A., Huston, Berlin or London.

I agree with Hemlock that the long term effects would be positive. But short-term effects would overshadow anyone’s claim “it’s good for the future”. A more gradual deregulation would balance short-term negative reprocussions for the current populations of resource abundant areas against long term benefits.

For example, freedom of movement within NAFTA along the lines of the EU. The very least we could do right now here in the U.S is give the illegal Mexican and Cannadian residents in the U.S. full amnesty. If they can prove that they have resided for more than a year in the U.S., they should recieve a green card on the spot.

The U.S. Treasury can only benefit from this by suddenly collecting tax revenues from millions of people! We are talking mayor money here!!!

Al-Qaida would love it!

Would you care to elaborate on that Duckster… or shouldn’t I ask you to?

Duckster, I’m assuming you mean that since terror groups could move freely across borders, we should fear open borders. More tightly integrated nation-states will lead to greater co-operation of local law enforcement, thereby reducing the threat of terror!

Dropping a bomb on another country 'cause they pose a threat tends to not work very well in the long term. Closer co-operation between the FBI and similar organizations abroad would be more effective. Safeguarding geoploitical boundaries these days is like trying to fix Lisa and Henry’s bucket…

The very first result of dropping all rules regarding immigration would be to send a certain former poster into apoplexic fits, probably accompanied by a massive M.I. and, possibly, the first case of auto-generated rabies. :wink:

Because a huge number of employers are quite willing to pay substandard wages for substandard work, as long as they can show that some work was done at a rate below the expected cost. A great deal of technical work is let out by people ignorant of the technical skills needed to accomplish it.
(I am not arguing one side or the other regarding open immigration, but the notion that only technically qualified people are offered jobs across international borders is quite amusing in a bitter sort of way.)

??? I can make no sense of this posting?

Are you a technically skilled employee embittered by competing incompetent H1 workers willing to labor at lower costs? Is that what makes it so bitter amusing to you?

I have not found myself in direct competition with any H1s. I have found myself working in shops where they were employed. Some of them have been outstanding. A few of them were dumber than rocks, but were kept on because their rates were so “good.” Given that quite a few H1s have been kept around simply because they had “good” rates, I find the notion that only those “as good as or probably better than a native candidate” are hired amusing. In that I do know qualified people who are looking for work while H1s are maintained in place because of their rates, there is a tinge of bitterness to my humor.

ethnicallynot, that’s the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution! That’s one of my pet peeves. How can so many people believe we have a Constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

I can’t make much sense of the rest of that post. What does the UDHR have to do with anything? It deliberately does not give people the right to immigrate. They do have the right to leave their country, and the right to seek asylum, but no other country has the obligation to let them in.

National borders are unimportant to corporations - why are we still restrained by them? The WTO claims that labor is irrelevant to trade. What a crock.