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8967: Durban on Immigration (fwd)

From: Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

In a recent column in “Business Week” (05/28/01), University of
Chicago professor, Gary S. Becker, proposes a way for the
world’s developed countries to help the third world reduce the
pressure of explosive population growth.  After pointing out
that virtually all of the high-income countries have fertility
rates too low to fully replace their populations, he proposes a
simple relaxing of immigration policy by the wealthy countries. 
And to counter the opposition of host country taxpayers who
believe their welfare states attract mostly immigrants seeking
government benefits, he suggests that these host countries give
greater priority to younger, skilled immigrants who work hard
and contribute much more in taxes than they receive in benefits.

For the third world, such enlightened immigration policies by
their northern neighbors would reduce overbearing population
pressures in such crowded cities as Calcutta, Mexico City,
Cairo, and Port-au-Prince.  Granted, feeding a burgeoning young
population does strain already feeble economic resources,
perhaps hampering the third world from investing in its own
future.  So, is this the proverbial win-win solution?

I suppose that most of the Haitian-American readers of Corbett,
comfortably ensconced in their new homeland, will have no
trouble with Professor Becker’s thesis.  And we have already
heard plenty of complaints about the cursory treatment of
Haitian applicants at the U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince.  Why
even the high cost of applying for a U.S. visa is an obvious
attempt to simply reduce the number of applicants.  But if the
developed world decides to change course and ‘help’ Haiti by
opening its doors, is this really help?  

I submit that there will still be some selection process
necessary if only to avoid de-populating the island.  And under
anything other than a random selection policy, the developed
world WILL effectively skim off the cream of the crop in a brain
drain of dramatic proportions.  

In fact it is already happening.  Struggling to hold its own
with English-speaking Canada, Quebec has been very receptive to
French-speaking immigrants, and there is virtually no employer
of any size in Haiti who has not lost key people to Canada. 
Overheard recently, a fellow working at the Canadian Embassy
mentioned that most Haitian employees there look at their
employment as a first step in the emigration process!

Obviously, the emigration of Haiti’s best and brightest may not
be entirely what Professor Becker had in mind, but it is the new
reality.  Some 40,000 new Quebecois have already left Haiti...
educated, healthy folks already contributing to French-speaking
Canada. To the extent that the better-educated elite in Haiti
are generally seen as less likely to fall within the Lavalas’
popular mass constituency, many of these departures may even be
encouraged by the Haitian government.  Most unfortunate, since,
politics aside, the folks leaving are the very ones who would be
best able to contribute to Haiti’s development.    

L. Durban

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