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Brian French

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Does Immigration Help or Hurt a Country?

For hundreds of years immigrants have been viewed with suspicion and concern.

Do immigrants make a country more prosperous and diverse or does it drag it down?

Sound off. Try to support your position with evidence.

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    Aug 3 2013: Who, in the USA, does not have immigrant roots? The answer is no one. The USA would be a vast, empty land were it not for Immigration. You judge if that is "good".
  • Jul 25 2013: By definition immigrants make a country more diverse, so as far as that is desirable immigrants help a country.

    As for more prosperous that is a bit more thorny. If you bring in low wage earners it will reduce the average wage in the country. However, that may make the country more prosperous because you have a lower cost of living and you can now support more people at the high end of the wage spectrum.

    What is certain is that cutting yourself off from contact with the rest of the world would be devastating to a country's prosperity. Today being a prosperous nation demands the ability to interact with other countries. In the US we are greatly benefitted from immigrants in this regard.

    So then immigrants increase diversity, they strengthen your ability to interact with other countries, and they lower the cost of living.

    On the flip side their are numerous costs associated with undocumented workers who do not have medical benefits and who might not be paying tax. Educating children who speak another language is more difficult and more expensive.
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    Aug 22 2013: Economic migrants obviously do benefit the economy, but if someone moves to another country with the sole intention of earning money to send home and with no intention whatsoever of integrating with the local populace, then it can be socially very disruptive.

    Where I live in the UK, I feel like a foreigner in my own country. To hear someone speaking English is actually becoming quite rare, because the migrants encountered do not bother learning English and have no intention of integrating with the English way of life. The agricultural workers keep themselves to themselves in micro-communities built for them. I find this aspect of immigration wholly unacceptable. It is basic politeness to at least try and learn a few words, so that integration is possible.

    Immigration without integration hurts a country very deeply at a social level.

    Economically, immigration both helps and hurts. It helps because products can be made cheaply. It hurts because wages are driven downwards for the indigenous population, and the standard of living is therefore taken down with it. On balance for the resident population therefore, I would say there is more hurt than help.

    Those immigrants who DO integrate however, are usually charming, respectful and hard-working. I like them a lot. This is because I see them as people, rather than strange, unapproachable money-making automatons.

    A possible answer? to legislate that integration with local people is essential, with at least a good level of conversational English and knowledge of the country they are moving to.

    I'm not prejudiced. I am just asking for a degree of social etiquette and politeness. That's all.
  • Aug 1 2013: Overall,I would say that immigration has been a plus for the US. At the upper level you have immigrants doing the major work on the Atom bomb, computers, electricity, etc. Mass workers helped many projects - i.e. the transcontinental railroad built by Irish and Chinese immigrant workers.
  • Jul 31 2013: "Killing off" as in genocide or as in the rivalry between two competing tribes for resources?
  • Jul 31 2013: As the whole world is getting closer, the concept of boundary slightly fade way. Actually, territorial issues are quite sensitive between countries but it is obvious that we are connected unprecedentedly. Still, some people treat immigrants exclusively. These people have to think that someday they will be the one who goes abroad. We have to left our home town and challenge something new. Immigrations sometimes give positive impact on the society but some few negative influences.
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    Jul 29 2013: It depends on the situation of different countries. For example, the United States of America is truly a country of immigration. The Europeans moved there centuries ago, turning it into the leading country of the world. It is a good thing right?
    • Jul 29 2013: Not for the American Indians.

      Do Taiwan and South Korea allow for immigration into their country and a naturalization process to become a citizen?
      • Jul 31 2013: Isn't it believed that the American Indians immigrated from Asia in multiple ways, each wave killing off the prior wave?
  • Jul 27 2013: Well ! I think it hurts the country.People who escape from their mother land do not help their country to develop for a better futur.However this is due to reasons.I always ask immigrants what's the reason why of this escaping.They just answer me that the country doesn't help them out to realise what they want or to make their life better and safe.Moreover they are fed up with lies and vows of the government that's why they think they will find happiness and a true futur aboard.To sum up the conditions of living push people to leave.this is in one hand , in the other hand. People are obliged to immigrate to WORK ! I know people from Germany , danmark who immigrated to France , Italy simply because they found a job there.After all immigration does not push a country to rise and to prosper
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    Jul 27 2013: How else would America get it's cheap work force?
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    Jul 25 2013: Here is how I would do it...

    I would create huge enterprise zones that would employ new immigrants. I wold pick a state like Wyoming which was sparsely populated and had large govt. land holdings. Then I would talk to Apple and find out what they would need as far as wage concessions to manufacture in the US.

    Immigrants would be exempt from minimum wage laws. Tax Apples foreign workers to level the playing field.
    US workers will most likely get the more skilled middle management, plant construction and spin off jobs (local restaurants, gas stations etc).

    Let Apple and Wall Street use some of their capital to put in the schools and plumbing.

    Suck it up as far as the short term challenges and expense. The payoffs are 15 to 50 years down the line.
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    Jul 25 2013: Brian, I support immigration. Countries have set procedures to balance the flow into the countries. These quotas allow equal opportunity for everyone who asks for admission.

    The problem occurs when laws and regulations are ignored. It is not about nationalities. It is about land, jobs, facilities, food supplies, medical capabilities, water supply, schools, etc ...

    Say you live in XYZ with a population of 2000 ... a elementary and high school population of 400 .... sewer system designed for 2500 ... one deep water well .. one stop and shop ...

    A growth spurt of almost any dimension would disrupt the whole system. Add 100 kids to the school with no budget ... add 600 people to the town and the sewer system cannot cope .... etc

    Immigration is the same principle ... we need planned growth.

    The issue has never been about nationality ... but controlled, managed, smart, equal opportunity growth.

    I wish you well. Bob.
    • Aug 1 2013: quotas have been very racial - look at the quotas setup for immigrants from Asia vs those from Europe.
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        Aug 1 2013: Wayne, Quotas are arrived at by the percentage of requests to make entry equal. Quotas are not racial they are number crunching.

        In the last year 50 purples apply and only two oranges ... then more purples will be given the opportunity.

        The point we are straying away from is that it all works well as planned growth. If for some reason there is a million person jump over the planned growth rate then the system suffers.

        Throwing racial into the mix does not help ... the discussion becomes emotional and we move away from the conversation.

        Thanks for the reply. Bob.
        • Aug 1 2013: Bob,

          look at the Chinese Exclusion act of 1882, 1923, 1924. They were extended to include all races from Asia.
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        Aug 1 2013: So Wayne, Does Immigration Help or Hurt a Country?
        • Aug 1 2013: Overall I would say it has helped the US
  • Jul 25 2013: Like most things, the answer is both.

    The net effect will depend on the specific circumstances, but my personal opinion is that is usually positive.
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    Jul 25 2013: Suggest immigration can do both depending on the economic status of a country at a particular time and on the 'type' of immigrants it allows onto its shores/borders.

    Diversity isn't necessarily a plus or a desire.

    Just look at what culture 'clashes' have done to the harmony of many countries.
    • Jul 25 2013: Agreed on all points. I think the success the US has had with immigrants has a lot to do with the fact that we had land to be settled. We had a place to put the immigrants. Therefore you have to be careful to not use the US as a model since there are very few countries with that kind of situation today.

      You also have to look at what immigration does the country the immigrants are fleeing. Even if the immigrants don't improve the country they flee to is that better than the alternative?
  • Jul 25 2013: Sooner or later the world will be no country conception,as well as not mentioned about frontiers.
  • Jul 25 2013: Reread Malthus and Ricardo's article on wages. In this world do you want your wages lowered?

    We were told in our Econ 101 text that employers wanted immigrant labor to lower wages.

    Do you want less. There are no frontiers nwo. Compare what has happened in China and India over the last decade.