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Ear to the Ground

Migration Is a Win-Win-Win

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Posted on Oct 5, 2009
U.S. Army / Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde

Nogalez, Ariz., on the left faces Nogales, Mexico, on the right.

An independent report commissioned by the U.N. has found that migration is simply good economics for everyone involved. The world’s billion migrants actually boost employment in their destination communities while improving conditions back home.

Countries that yield to xenophobia are only hurting their own economic fortunes, the report argues.

It’s worth reading the full release, linked below, which refutes many long-held myths about immigration.  —PS

UN News Service:

Nearly 1 billion people are migrants, according to the report, with the overwhelming majority – 740 million – moving internally within their own countries. Less than three out of every 10 trans-national migrants move from a developing country to a rich one.

The report says the facts defy widely held beliefs about the economic impact of migrants, demonstrating instead that they typically enhance economic output in their new communities, give more than they take and have only a small effect on public finances.

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By P. T., October 8, 2009 at 9:01 am Link to this comment

And about Japan, which is more restrictive than Mexico?  wink

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By Anarcissie, October 8, 2009 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

P. T.:
’“The data seem to indicate that immigration raises prosperity in general and, most likely, wages.”

If by “in general,” you mean across all classes, there is no such data.

And immigration restrictions are universal, although not identical.  For example, the U.S. is more liberal than Mexico.’

Thank you.  Mexico has more restrictive immigration policies than the U.S., a lower per capita GDP than the U.S., and greater income inequality than the U.S., which means the poor are absolutely and relatively worse off in Mexico than in the U.S.

Q.E.D.

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By P. T., October 7, 2009 at 10:59 pm Link to this comment

I might also point out that declines in population increase the capital to labor ratio, thereby increasing productivity.  Also, the price of housing is reduced by decreasing demand.  And pollution is decreased.  These are some reasons that the so-called future population “shortage” in certain countries is absurd.

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By P. T., October 7, 2009 at 10:35 pm Link to this comment

“The data seem to indicate that immigration raises prosperity in general and, most likely, wages.”


If by “in general,” you mean across all classes, there is no such data.

And immigration restrictions are universal, although not identical.  For example, the U.S. is more liberal than Mexico.

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By Anarcissie, October 7, 2009 at 6:29 pm Link to this comment

P. T.:
‘Elites, whether on the left or right, need to quit looking for an endless supply of cheap labor to do their laundry, raise their kids, mow their lawns, work in their restaurants and hotels, etc.—and get used to paying living wages.

If immigration laws are xenophobic, then xenophobia is a universal.  Singling out one country is hypocritical.’

However, the existence of elites, and supplies of cheap labor, are not derived from or dependent on immigration.  The data seem to indicate that immigration raises prosperity in general and, most likely, wages.  Wages certainly rose in the U.S. during many high-immigration periods.  Wages, however, can be depressed by other means, like busting unions and locking people behind boundaries where they can’t move to higher-wage areas.  Another favorite is to outlaw immigration and yet permit it, so as to create a class of untermenschen who can be easily exploited.  Obviously this sort of thing can be accomplished only with a restrictive immigration policy.  Divide and conquer.

Xenophobia, like racism and religious bigotry, isn’t quite universal.  You may mean ubiquitous.  That’s no reason not to do what you can to reduce or eliminate it.

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By Meddidy, October 7, 2009 at 10:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a BUNCH OF LIBERAL LIES, no doubt directly from the Communist Obama Regime..

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By P. T., October 7, 2009 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

Elites, whether on the left or right, need to quit looking for an endless supply of cheap labor to do their laundry, raise their kids, mow their lawns, work in their restaurants and hotels, etc.—and get used to paying living wages.

If immigration laws are xenophobic, then xenophobia is a universal.  Singling out one country is hypocritical.

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By Anarcissie, October 7, 2009 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

Folktruther:
’... You could argue, first feed the belly, than argue right and wrong, as Brecht put it.’

When it comes down to right and wrong, borders shouldn’t even exist.  They are simply another instrument of oppression.  There is no reason why a peaceable person walking north from Mexico City on the public roads should be stopped at the Rio Grande.  But I know that reason is weak and xenophobia is strong, so I confined myself to refuting the economic arguments put about by xenophobes.  You have to talk to the belly when the head and heart are turned off.

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By P. T., October 6, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

From the U.N. news release:  “While the report does not advocate for the wholesale liberalization of international migration, it points out that the populations of industrialized countries are ageing and these societies will increasingly need migrant workers, especially in low-skilled fields.”


The elite which did the report gave away the game with that sentence.  This is about depressing the cost of labor in low-skilled fields.  The reality is that there is no such thing as a labor shortage.  There is a shortage of employers who want to pay a market-clearing wage.  Again, this is standard economic theory.

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By Folktruther, October 6, 2009 at 11:19 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie’s argument is strengthened by the experience of the migrations of people in the European Union, and the projected one for East Asia. 

The new Japanese premier, Yukio, has endorsed a two decade old idea of a economic union of East Asia.  There is currently one of less developed countries of the Southeast Asian Association, plus three, China, Korea and Japan.  If they were to merge economically, they would encompass two billion people.  Who could go anywhere in East Asia.  If it later ecompasesed southeast Asia of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, it would including the major of earthpersons.

Why would the ruling classes of polities do this if it were not to their economic benefit?  this does not mean it is against the economic benefit of national peoples, but against their POLITICAL benefit in the sense that it would dilute their political power.  But do they have much anyway?  Do we?

The economic integration obviously precedes cultural and political integration.  And new forms have to be worked out to increase the democratic power of the people.  But this does not detract from Anarcissie’s ECONOMIC argument.  You could argue, first feed the belly, than argue right and wrong, as Brecht put it.

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By Anarcissie, October 6, 2009 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

P. T.:
’“so it is just as reasonable to attribute the prosperity to the immigration.”

Prosperity for whom?  Which class?  Not for the class with surplus labor.’

Well, I doubt if you want to argue that the aggregate material wealth of the U.S. declined in the last third (say) of the 19th century.  So, if you want to argue that the income or net worth of some class of people in the U.S. declined, go ahead and argue it.  You’ll need some statistics.  My impression is that the immigration of large numbers of people greatly increased the wealth and welfare of most of the inhabitants of the country, as such things are usually accounted.  I prefer to think this since many of my ancestors were among the newcomers.

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By P. T., October 6, 2009 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

“so it is just as reasonable to attribute the prosperity to the immigration.”


Prosperity for whom?  Which class?  Not for the class with surplus labor.

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By johannes, October 6, 2009 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

Yea O Yea, you have to be stupid, as you believe wath your governement says, governements are never for the people in the street, and from your melting pot they have made an pot full of shit, with out a culture or a basic living pattern, they have created an hugh lot of white tras, under educated, hungre and drug users, how can they compete against well educated immigrands, never they will go to the garbagebin, bue bye with Americans.

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By P. T., October 6, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

The American Southwest does not need more people.  It is out of water.

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By Folktruther, October 6, 2009 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Strong argument, Anarcissie, thanks for taking the time.  It is bolstered by the experience of the EU which allows free immingration within their countries.  In London now one can hear a half dozen different languages on the streets.  And China has an strong immigration group from Africa, including Obama’s half brother.  but they have controls on capital movements.

Maybe the distinction, or at least a distinction, is that it is not possible to depopulate a country by economic imperialism and then welcome all its people as immigrants..  Clearly the mainstream argument has been largely restricted by either racial exploitation or racial exclusion.  And these have been identified with by progs.  We clearly need a more general exploration of the alternatives.

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By grumpynyker, October 6, 2009 at 8:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why do you hypocrites:

conflate immigrant with ILLEGAL immigrant?  Why should
undereducated black american citizens have to compete
with day laborers from Mexico/Central & South
America/Africa/Caribbean for construction/civil
service jobs especially in urban centers like NYC?  I
wonder if you bigots would feel the same way if the
top 1% would import computer literate foreign
nationals to compete for YOUR jobs.  This shit started
when slavery ended in 1865; that’s when large numbers
of Europeans were allowed to come in to displace the
newly freed slaves, and the Chinese.

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By hahaha, October 6, 2009 at 8:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What do you expect globalist swine to say?  There’s no slave like a happy slave.  ‘Hey slaves, you’ll be happy jiving, singing, dancing & eating watermelon on the ol’ plantation.’

The reason they want no borders on labor is to undercut any possibility of labor organizing and to undercut any income floor.  Here in the U.S., illegal (but actually encouraged and desired by the corpoRAT state) immigration totally undercut minimum wage.  That was the plan. 

We’re only worker units to them—to be used and discarded as needed.  Look at what NAFTA did to Mexican farmers and laborers.  If they succeed, say goodbye to the middle class lifestyle.  There will be the ultra, ultra rich and then the crumb eaters fighting each other for every crumb.

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By Virginia777, October 6, 2009 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

Gosh, no, really?

Immigrants actually help and improve our economy?

I’m with you, Anarcissie, open up the borders!

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By Ali, October 6, 2009 at 8:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Anarcissie, one of the greatest periods of growth in the US economy was up to 1965 when immigration to the US was very low.  Immigration benefits primarily the immigrants, NOT AMERICANS in general.  In fact, if immigration is so good at creating jobs, just why is it that we have 15.1 million unemployed Americans (not even counting millions of discouraged workers)?  And why is it that household incomes in real terms have stagnated for the past several years, coinciding with periods of high immigration?
Fact is, if immigration creates “new” jobs, it’s for the immigrants themselves and also likely depresses the wages of both immigrants and Americans.  Which, after all, is precisely why Alan Greenspan said he wanted more immigration—to keep wages and salaries down.

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By Anarcissie, October 6, 2009 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

Folktruther:
‘AS P.T. and Coommune suggest, immigration has always been used by the ruling class to keep wages down.  this doesn’t mean the immigration should be stopped, or immigrants not treated decently, but the economic effects have to be considered.’

Since immigrants other than slaves are self-motivated, the only way the ruling class can affect immigration is by choking it off.

As it happens, in the United States, periods of high immigration, like the late 19th century, were associated with a rapidly expanding economy and increasing prosperity, probably including rising wages, and periods of low immigration, like the 1930s, with depression and low wages.  One could attribute the high immigration of the late 19th century to the aforesaid prosperity, but the reasons given by immigrants almost always involved oppressive conditions in the home country, like famine in Ireland, the draft in the Russian Empire, civil war and poverty in Italy, so it is just as reasonable to attribute the prosperity to the immigration.

The decline in immigration in the 1920s and 1930s, on the other hand, was explicitly due to legal restrictions: the ruling classes, and many of the ordinary people, felt threatened by immigrants and their odd cultures and different ideas.  Many of the immigrants were supposed to be anarchists or socialists.  These political contagions were associated with ethnicity, and the immigration laws adjusted accordingly.  The Great Depression soon followed.

If we believe Adam Smith, then capital and labor both tend to flow into those areas where they are most valuable and therefore best rewarded.  (Again, we are excluding slavery and investment forced for political reasons.)  The product of increased labor, especially cheap labor, is more capital, which the capitalist must invest to stay in business.  The result ought to be, and often seems actually to be, a rise in both commerce and wages.  In order to keep wages down, it makes more sense to sequester people behind national boundaries so that they cannot move from low-wage to high-wage areas.

One should also consider the often overlooked fact that many immigrants arrive with a good deal of money, acquired skills, goods, and other forms of wealth.  This is how Koreans arrive in your neighborhood and suddenly produce attractive grocery stores instead of standing around on street corners sadly waiting for casual labor.

In general, it seems, the best thing economically is to make the borders as porous as possible, if not eliminate them entirely.  Like other cops, the INS with its guns and jails does not produce wealth; it keeps it from being produced.  And for what?

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By ardee, October 6, 2009 at 3:01 am Link to this comment

The issue is illegal immigration not immigration in general, though the extremist probably wishes to end even the legal form I suspect.

At the root of the wave of immigrants is the economic ruin our multinational corporations wreak upon the economies of the nations from which these immigrants flood.

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By P. T., October 5, 2009 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

Make that “too far.”  wink

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By P. T., October 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm Link to this comment

Theoretically, immigration could be structured in such a way as to help the low-wage workers of the country to which the immigrants came.  That would entail allowing immigration of high-income workers.  The effect would be to drive down the income of highly-skilled workers—and make the goods and services they provide cheaper for low-income people.  There could even be a special tax on such workers that is remitted to their country of origin in order to help there.

However, U.S. elites would rebel at such a thing if it went to far.  In fact they already have.  U.S. doctors, to protect their high fees, have successfully lobbied to cut back the number of foreign doctors allowed into the U.S.

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By Folktruther, October 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm Link to this comment

AS P.T. and Coommune suggest, immigration has always been used by the ruling class to keep wages down.  this doesn’t mean the immigration should be stopped, or immigrants not treated decently, but the economic effects have to be considered.

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By Commune115, October 5, 2009 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

With unemployment rising, Obama would be suicidal to try and implement immigration reform. The Republicans and even some Democrats would rip him apart. Meanwhile, Latin American countries benefitting from illegal labor in the US is a very sad state of affairs and a testament to the monumental failure of US policies such as NAFTA in Mexico and the free trade agreements implemented in Central America. Of course this is why big business hates people like Chavez, because he promotes the idea of Latin nations actually advancing domestically. The business sector hated PRD candidate Lopez Obrador during the 2006 Mexican elections because he specifically stated that one of his goals was to strengthen Mexico’s domestic situation so illegal immigration could be curved.

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By P. T., October 5, 2009 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Immigration helps some people and hurts others.  If you are a construction worker, a farm worker, or a janitor, for example, you are going to be hurt by competing against a large number of immigrants looking for those types of jobs.  If you are an employer of those workers, you are going to be helped by paying the resulting lower wages.  That is standard economic theory.  It is supply and demand.

Because illegal immigration mostly takes the form of low-wage workers, it hurts American low-wage workers and redistributes money upward to higher-income people.  Cesar Chavez was aware of that, which is why he fought illegal immigration.  The rich think American workers are overpaid.

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By Christopher fretwell, October 5, 2009 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

PROPAGANDA:try telling that to the people who use to work at the four bankrupt hospitals in california. What a joke this research is….

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