Comments, In Focus, Needle's Eye

An ‘open door’ for immigration: A well-intentioned path to harm?

Could it be that allowing a completely open door to immigrants, with no checks whatsoever, is far from the moral high ground that it claims to be, but rather the opposite?



An open door 2 Nigel Pocock


What then are the detrimental effects of immigration on poor countries? The first and foremost has to be the ‘brain drain’.

In Sierra Leone (2008) 90% of its graduates were in Europe or the US. How can this possibly be helpful? The argument that people go back to where they come from, simply does not stand up. People do not want to return to relative poverty.

La verdad inmigrantes6More than 70% of graduates in Guyana and Jamaica are said to move to developed countries.

Other countries like Morocco (65%), Tunisia (64%), Gambia (60%), Ghana (26%) export their graduates. This is very destructive in Sub-Saharan Africa, where only around 4% of people have a degree anyway. In such circumstances one person with a degree is of much greater consequence that one person in a rich country.

These are the very people who should be change agents in their societies, and they are being lost to their communities.

All because of western ‘needs’, especially health and lifestyle. In such developed countries, the slightest drop in purchasing power brings cries of dissatisfaction and complaints against the government.

An open door 3In recent time, due to emigration, Malawi was left with 336 nurses to service a population of 12,000,000!

One of the effects of the nursing brain drain is the rise in infant mortality in poor countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa had 6 doctors per 100,000 population (166 in UK, 249 in Australia, 549 in the US). About 12% of Indian doctors are in the NHS in Britain. In fairness (2004), the NHS agreed not to recruit from developing countries, but this is easily circumvented.

los nuevos inmigrantes4All this begs the question—is the ‘open door’ to immigration right? I believe that it is not, at least not in respect of poor countries. Indeed, it is positively wrong.

So what should be done? Perhaps the best option (starting with the recognition that restricted immigration is best for poor countries) is for wealthy countries to provide education and training, and then to encourage a return home; at the same time helping to facilitate the use of these new-found skills in the countries of origin.

This enables remittances to be sent home, followed by a native skills base. Moreover, where tyrannies prevent new knowledge from being utilised, returning emigrants can foster a more open and creative society to emerge.

Thus, misguided idealism, albeit well-intentioned, of lawyers, politicians and journalists are actually making life more difficult for poor countries. Uganda, for example, might eventually catch up with Europe in 100 years from now.

An open door 1But taking out its brightest people has far more impact on such poor countries than rich ones; thus Uganda, and countries like it, will be held back even more.

The west needs to realise that its ‘rights idealism’ is highly counter-productive when applied to an open door policy as regards most poor countries. The west needs to wake up to its destructive human asset-stripping of the poor nations.









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