Sunday, April 26, 2009

Musing on Immigration and work visas

There is an interesting article in Forbes this week titled "Your Alpaca For A Visa" The basic question that the author seems to wonder: Why the slowdown in the west and the continued resilience of Chinese economy has not diminished the eagerness to migrate to the land of honey-and-milk, America?
The author hypnotizes "The going rate for a full-service visa package, including fake documents, coaching for your visa interview and help landing a job once you're in the U.S., is as much as $15,000 to $17,500, and for that, a customer may end up as, say, a cook in a Chinese restaurant, working 70 to 80 hours a week for less than $2,000 a month. Who wants to go to that kind of trouble to seek that kind of opportunity? . . . What about their backgrounds made them want to go to the U.S.? We may never know, but the most likely answer is the most obvious one, that they believed there would be more attractive economic opportunities abroad than at home"
There was another similar essay by John Tamny, in Forbes a while ago "Markets Solve The Immigration 'Problem'" John says how a decline in foreign migrants is a bad sign for any economy. "So if it's established that the somewhat natural ups and downs of our economy serve as a natural, market-driven regulator of worker inflows into the states, this reality should cause us to rethink policies meant to keep immigrants from reaching the U.S. altogether. As the aforementioned downturn has revealed, worker demand, or lack thereof, does a good job in that regard."

While the debate on H1-work visas continues in the US, Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is perhaps trying to see if a similar debate will be rekindled in United kingdom. Mark blogs "IT firms working in the UK with global resource are just getting used to their newly found freedom, where the government trusts them to follow the guidelines and supervision is minimal. Will the weight of the ‘British jobs for British workers’ debate mean the work visa system is overhauled again before the ink is dry on the last revision?"

Debate on work visas go beyond the fundamental hypothesis of division of labor: in The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith used a pin factory to show the wonders of the division of labor. In modern world it is about high-skilled workers, programmers and analysts who are a part of the global economy, willing to travel and migrate where opportunities (and need) exist, but may sometimes be restricted by protectionist immigration and visa regulations.

Bloggers and authors seem to be missing a basic driver here: Immigrants, and those looking to migrate to foreign lands to live and work are taking a "big picture" perspective, looking beyond the boom-and-bust cycles. For many, moving and living in the US (or even UK) is a the persuit of the “American Dream” And it is perhaps not just about the ability to earn in Dollars or Pounds (though that is certainly a factor too)
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