There are two main groups who support higher immigration: people who vote for left-wing parties, and people who bankroll right-wing parties…
Written by Noah Carl.
There are two main groups who support higher immigration: people who vote for left-wing parties, and people who bankroll right-wing parties.
Those in the second group have entirely self-interested reasons for supporting higher immigration: to increase the supply of labour, thereby reducing workers’ bargaining power; and to get the workers they need ready-trained (rather than having to sponsor their training themselves).
Those in the first group, by contrast, have at least partly altruistic motives – or they purport to have such motives. They care about the principle that people not be held back by morally arbitrary barriers like national borders. And they care about the well-being of the immigrants: just because someone happened to be born in a different country from me, they reason, why should his or her interests be discounted?
Unfortunately for those in the first group, they face a fundamental problem.
The types of immigration that are most beneficial for the host country are the ones that are most harmful to the sending country. And conversely, the types that are most detrimental for the host country are the one that are most benign for the sending country.
To put it simply: high-skilled immigration causes brain-drain in sending countries, while low-skilled immigration causes various other problems in host countries.
Whichever type of immigration you allow, you end up hurting disadvantaged people: in the case of low-skilled immigration, it’s the native working class; in the case of high-skilled immigration, it’s the working class who’re left behind in the country of origin. Since people who vote for left-wing parties claim to speak for disadvantaged people, this presents a real dilemma.
Of course, it’s not a complete lose-lose from disadvantaged people’s point of view. The immigrants themselves might be disadvantaged, and by permitting their entry you’re making them better off. But there’s no getting around the fact that some people lose out, and those are the people that left-wing activists claim to care about.