Migration Hurts the Homeland

Article author: 
Paul Collier
Article publisher: 
New York Times
Article date: 
29 November 2013
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

Liberals have long fought for the rights of immigrants. Businesses have long fought for the right of people to immigrate. It’s a crucial distinction.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook created a lobbying organization, FWD.us, this year to try to unite the two causes by casting comprehensive immigration reform [amnesty for illegal aliens] in the United States as an issue of justice. “Eleven million people is a lot of people who are being treated unfairly right now,” he said. As self-serving as Mr. Zuckerberg’s advocacy may be... his high-minded rhetoric reflects an attempt to appeal to pro-immigration liberals, who presume that opening doors wider is the humane thing to do. But humane for whom?...

Migration is good for poor countries, but not in every form, and not in unlimited amounts...

...many poor countries have too much emigration. I do not mean that they would be better with none, but they would be better with less. The big winners from the emigration of the educated have been China and India. Because each has over a billion people, proportionately few people leave...

Many on the left ... prefer to believe that they’re helping poor people flee difficult situations at home. But we might be feeding a vicious circle, in which home gets worse precisely because the fairy godmothers leave. Humanitarians become caught up trying to help individuals, and therefore miss the larger implications: There are poor people, and there are poor societies. An open door for the talented would help Facebook’s bottom line, but not the bottom billion.

Paul Collier is a professor of economics and public policy at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, and the author, most recently, of “Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World.”