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The Economic Fallout of Restrictions on Immigration


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times;

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness;

It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity;

It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness;

It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair;

  • Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

 This famous and oft quoted passage from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ although written more than a century ago, can verily embody the sheer dichotomy we as a society are facing today, when it comes to the question of immigration. At one end of the spectrum we have the liberal leftists who absolutely welcome everyone, including refugees and undocumented immigrants in to the country. It is a humanistic viewpoint that propels this school of thought, the belief is that every human deserves to have the same resources I have. On the other end of the spectrum are the far right extremists, who believe that only the people who are citizens of the country have the right to the country’s resources. They are strongly against immigration of any form or kind. Most of us however fall somewhere between these two extreme positions. One currently prevailing view point is the common sense approach of accepting immigration and welcoming immigrants when it is economically beneficial to the host country.

It was not a few decades ago, that professionals from countries like India were being wooed and welcomed with open arms into the first world for their STEM knowledge and expertise in the IT field. The 1980’s to the mid 2000’s was the age of the internet and the height of the IT boom all over the world, IT professionals often quoted with wit the adage ‘Trespassers will be recruited” to highlight the employment situation of those times. Many countries like USA, Australia, Canada and others actively encouraged and sought educated and skilled immigrants to address the labor shortage in their countries. In 1990 Management gurus, CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel theorized, every company should focus on their core competencies and outsource all other work. This combined with the obvious economic benefits of free international labor exchange, increased the immigration rush to countries in the developed world. Today however, the opposite is increasingly becoming true, every day we wake up to the news that yet another developed first world nation, Starting with USA, who under the Trump regime, rapidly fired off salvos against the H1B visa, followed by Australia’s abolishing of the 457 visa class, and the latest crackdown on immigrants by New Zealand is tightening its immigration policy and increasing restrictions on who can and cannot enter, and making the eligibility criteria more stringent in an effort to put “Their Nation first”. Social media too is full of opinions by self-designated pundits who advocate a hard stance against all immigrants, undocumented or otherwise. Facebook and Twitter are becoming battleground for debate on the subject of immigration.

While, one cannot deny that in a world marked by global economic recession and increasing unemployment, it seems natural and justified to expect and assume that the citizens of a country would have precedence over others when it comes to utilizing limited economic resources. In the long run however, this short sighted view can do more harm than good.  Placing restrictions on immigration, will force companies to content themselves with local hires who may not be the best qualified for the job. The emphasis on STEM education in USA and other developed countries is a recent phenomenon, which hopefully will give rise to a new generation of experts in the field, today however there is a shortage of STEM qualified professionals in the country. This causes a gap between a company’s requirement and persons available whose skills match the requirement. In a truly free global economy companies would be able to hire best talent for best pay across borders with minimal restrictions. This would improve the economic efficiency and productivity of the individual company and as a consequence the productivity of the nation as a whole. While shouting slogans against immigration and advocating a hard stance against people ‘who come to steal our jobs’ may be the popular refrain today amongst most of the developed world, They would do well to remember that most of the economic progress achieved by these countries was thanks to the very immigrants who they are now lobbying to keep out. Global Tree is one of India’s best overseas education and immigration consultants, and is committed to fostering immigration in a manner that benefits both the immigrant and the host country. To know more about the topic and how it can affect you get in touch with us at Global Tree.