Friday, April 07, 2006

Krauthammer on Immigration

Charles Krauthammer has written a superb piece for the Washington Post on the immigration debate in the US. His idea is that you combine the hard policy of building a physical barrier on the border of the US and Mexico with the soft policy of an amnesty on integration. This allows you to solve the problem of suffering illegal immigrants without the risk of incentivising future illegal migration. This proposal is of limited practical value to an island nation but does suggest at least the direction of movement; towards a more friendly policy for those already in the country if we can combine that with stronger controls at the border.

A problem is the brief suggestion that amnesty be dependent upon paying back taxes. That would make staying hardest for those who have been in the US longest and hurt the purpose of helping those stuck in the black market for so many years.

The other solution of having immigrants learn English makes more sense in finding those migrants committed to integration. An alternative would be a strong citizenship test such as that being suggested in Germany.

Since this report Merkel has set herself up in favour of it. Some of the questions are strong and clearly aimed at Islamists but should only really offend those that hold them (offending these people isn't a problem). Moderate Muslims should be more than happy that we exclude such extremists and to pretend that such views don't exist is absurd.

The only question which isn't directly targetted at extremists is that about homosexuality (which would catch many peaceable social conservatives who would have no trouble integrating in the UK) but this isn't a problem if the answers are interpreted such that milder, if illiberal, answers like "dissapointed" aren't cause for a red flag. The question is looking for an answer like that suggested by the University of London Union chair recently that he would "shoot a gay son".

While people can always lie having to study around the questions will give any applicant a good view of the values and opinions of the nation before they arrive and, therefore, still serve a purpose in informing their decision over whether to seek citizenship.


Dave Cole said...

Why should money be allowed to flow freely across borders but not people?


Matthew Sinclair said...

People moving creates social pressures which every society finds extremely difficult to deal with. This implies that we need to keep numbers at a level which we can integrate.

Money doesn't cause the same challenges.

Anonymous said...

Why does the US need to spend huge amounts of money to build a wall to deter honest, hard-working Latin Americans who have a greater sense of family values and enteprise than the natives? If we're going to compete with China and India (and also pay for our pensions) then it would make sense for the US to encourage immigration. Considering that large numbers of Latin Americans serve in the US Armed forces the old saying of Italian football that 'if they can die for us they can play for us' is pretty aposate.

Anonymous said...

Correction, after reading this article fully (rather than just the first paragaph) I meant to say 'family values' in the law abiding, hardworking sense of the word rather than the Luca Manfredi sense.

However, although I agree that immigrants (like the rest of the population) should accept contemporary values some the questions on the Dutch and German tests are deliberatively provocative. Forcing immigrants to watch a film with a topless women would embarass many people in this country as well (to say nothing of the fact that it costs over $400).