Gary Becker and Richard Posner have a highly pro-India post this week. They discuss the pertinent issue of immigration in the United States. In recent times, the immigration trends have shifted toward more Hispanic and Asian. Those that tend to immigrate from Mexico and other Latin American countries tend to occupy low-income or middle-income jobs whereas those from Asia generally come to the US for higher education or to work as technical personnel or in service-oriented industry like running gas stations, convenience stores, and dry cleaners (too much generalization, I know but it is true). The latter jobs may seem low-grade but result in high income; ask your local Gujju store owner if you don’t believe me.
Getting back to Becker & Posner’s arguments, they claim that United States would greatly benefit if H1-B visas were eliminated and permanent resident permits would be granted instead. This suggestion, of course is in direct opposition to the reality today as it has become increasingly difficult to obtain a green card (permanent resident card) and the quota for business and work visas is dwindling. Becker’s arguments are sound and logical although they may not be politically saleable in America. He posits that skilled immigrants, if granted a permanent permit to enter United States, would assimilate into the American way of life faster and would be a direct asset to the treasury as well due to contributions to the social security piggybank. These immigrants are also “younger, make few demands on the public purse, have low levels of unemployment, seldom go on welfare, generally have above average health, have relatively small families, and their children do well at school and cause few disciplinary problems.” Additionally, they and their children have low crime rates. All these aspects make for an excellent and desirable demographic that will only make America a better place to live.
By granting them permanent status, the residents are more comfortable in their surroundings and mental peace due to their transient status and hovering problem of their visa status is virtually guaranteed. Of course, this assumes free flowing labor mobility among countries and the only restriction being moving home encumbrances. The erstwhile complaints of brain-drain also have lessened in recent times partly due to new found prosperity in urban India attributed in turn to liberalization and global trade that we were cribbing about not so long ago.
The pro-India aspects of Becker-Posner’s arguments come in when they add restrictions on complete free movement of skilled immigrants. They fear China due to growing concerns of potential industrial espionage and Pakistan and other Middle-Eastern countries due to obvious terrorism and security concerns. The only country they don’t seem to object getting skilled immigrants from is India. Of course, they tend to overlook the curry and ghee flavor that seems to infest our desi neighborhoods. I guess, they have learnt to live with that now.