Immigration and the tendency to favour exclusion

I read an interesting tweet this morning, which stated:

“Excessive” immigration creates debt people pay for in multiple ways. Right person, right job, right place, right time?

It’s not news that immigration has become the scourge of the election year. Surprisingly, it is many (but not all) of those who subscribe to ‘inclusive’ ideologies that argue against increases in immigration or alternatively stated, to cap or reduce immigration, which is achieved through tougher exclusive measures. This exclusionary attitude appears to derive from the idea that immigrants equate to a ‘financial or economic cost’ to the resident population, which still seems entirely inconsistent with inclusiveness. Conceiving of other human beings as a ‘financial or economic costs’ is language one might expect of corporations rather than those who might otherwise consider themselves humanitarians. If we think all human beings have an equal right to be free, whether or not that freedom has some justifiable limitations, then it is difficult to justify excluding immigrants because they bear a financial or economic costs to residents. After all, immigrants become ‘financial or economic’ contributors the moment they start purchasing goods and services, paying rent or paying taxes on their income. Additionally, many of the goods and services we purchase are produced outside NZ by the foreign nationals we purportedly want to ramp up excluding.

As Aaron Schiff points out in his post About That Migration Boom:

We should celebrate because on the incoming side, skilled immigrants provide New Zealand with a significant free gift. Some other country has paid the cost of their birth, childcare, childhood medical care, education, etc. They turn up in New Zealand effectively bringing all that investment with them and this benefits the country. 

Remembering also that immigrants must meet a criteria as set out in the Immigration Act 2009 before being granted entry to NZ.  I’m unclear whether those talking about our apparent ‘immigration problem’ are including refugees, of which we have an appalling record by the way because we take in far less than we ought to due to a very restrictive criteria denying some entry because the rules are not responsive to changing global circumstances.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that rather than pursuing the populist position that  ‘immigration is a problem’, perhaps politicians, could focus on how better to collaborate with those states whose citizens are migrating to NZ, and look at removing this segregative attitude that is unbecoming of a geography largely comprised of migrants.

But say we accept the claim that there are financial burdens with ‘excessive’ immigration [whatever that means], might this not suggest that we have ineffective policy makers?

Perhaps we might reduce these ‘costs’ of infrastructure, or the ‘debts that people pay for in multiple ways’ if we were more collaborative rather than restricting ourselves to antiquated notions of exclusion. For example, we could consider creating a framework whereby states pool resources and distribute them on a proportionate basis. There are obvious practical implications and potentially ethical considerations in implementing such a framework e.g. would states start restricting who could leave their territory to reduce what they put into such a pooling of resources, or would states coerce people to migrate as part of an expansionary process? (both of these issues could be managed in a properly thought out legal instrument). But the philosophising aside,  my point is, perhaps the idea isn’t to presume we must ‘borrow’ to pay for infrastructure to accommodate those coming to NZ (noting that we benefit from these infrastructure improvements as well), but look at working with those other states so that free movement has broader benefits for all.  Because frankly, I am not comfortable with the idea that ‘human beings attract costs and should therefore be excluded from a society’.

Just a brief thought.

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