Thursday 2 February 2017

Doing the right thing, and doing well as consequence.

My piece in Monday's Dom Post:
In the immediate term, there are uncounted thousands of legal American residents who are not able to return home if they are currently outside America, or who risk not being able to return if they leave America. They passed through some of the world's most rigorous scrutiny before being granted refugee status, work visas, or permanent residence. And they are now disadvantaged because of the country of their birth.

America has long been a magnet for the world's most talented people. And America's most advanced industries rely heavily on foreigners allowed to work in the United States on H1-B visas. America's universities are the best in the world because they attract top scholars from everywhere. Foreigners on H1-B visas or with permanent residence teach foreign students on F visas, making education a massively successful American export industry.

New Zealand should announce a new visa category for people who were legally entitled to live and work in America until the Executive Order broke things. If the New Zealand government has wanted to attract more highly skilled migrants, there would be few better bets than trying to help those who have been hurt by American policy.
Expand the trial of the Canadian-style refugee sponsorship regime to accommodate those with whom America has broken faith - in as large of quantities as Kiwis are prepared to support through their private sponsorship efforts. I don't know what the right number is, but I do know that if Kiwis get together to cover the refugee's transitional costs, the government should not be in their darned way.

And opening up a new skilled migrant category that would simply give a visa to anybody in the States on an H1-B would be pretty simple. You can't even get an H1-B in the States if you're not earning at least $60k - this wouldn't be an influx of low-skilled people that agitates everybody. If the only way to make it work politically is to put in an entry levy to defray perceived infrastructure costs, so be it. They'd all be eligible for our current skilled migrant visas anyway, or just about all of them. There are hassles there where you need the points from a job-in-hand to get the visa, and some Kiwi employers haven't quite wrapped their heads around that making the job offer means the visa is pretty simple afterwards.

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley looks to move its foreign-born workers to Canada. Canada was always going to be at an advantage due to time zones and proximity. But it helped that the Canadian Prime Minister took a very welcoming approach to those hurt by Trump. New Zealand didn't, and we are missing an opportunity to help people while also improving the country's skilled migrant base.

I concluded:
Those who New Zealand might help would likely return to America when it returns to its senses. But some of those temporarily displaced could become excellent new New Zealanders.

This week, the New Zealand Initiative released The New New Zealanders: Why migrants make good Kiwis. It provides a stocktake on immigration to New Zealand, finding that migrants make a substantial contribution, and that many of the fears around immigration are not supported by the data.

Any migrants New Zealand did attract from America would be especially likely to contribute to New Zealand's skill base. But doing well in this way should be seen as a side-effect of doing good rather than the reason for doing it. New Zealand should help because we can, because it is the right thing to do, and because it shows our support for our friends in America during a difficult time.
Our report notes that migrants to New Zealand already more than pay their way in net taxes. But if concerns over infrastructure costs are critical, we could do better by using a levy on new migrants than by cutting their numbers: it could sustain a political equilibrium allowing more migration than otherwise. I really don't like the idea of the levy, because migrants are already paying their way on average.

But if your reason for opposing immigration and cutting numbers is infrastructure costs, you should support a levy instead of supporting cutting the numbers. If you argue for cutting the numbers instead of a levy, and you claim it's because of infrastructure costs or other costs that could be easily mitigated with a levy, I kinda don't believe your stated reasons for opposing immigration. And there are sometimes darker, unstated reasons for opposing immigration.

Update: Vox on Trump on visa holders.

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