Poor migrants

Contrast this new government policy:

Poor migrants who speak little or no English are to be subject to stricter immigration laws… Immigration categories are to be changed in an effort to “reduce the number of unskilled migrants who find it difficult to get jobs and are more likely to get benefit payments”.

to this academic research:

The vast wage differences across countries are a sizeable economic distortion, and offer the possibility of large gains through international migration. From a development perspective, a key challenge is to increase the opportunities for poor, relatively less skilled, individuals to participate in migration.

Now, the comparison isn’t perfect because the government’s talking about restricting the migration of dependents and parents, while the paper’s empirics deal with a seasonal worker programme. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that restricting migration of close family hinders migration generally. There is also little doubt that migrants tend to be better off post-migration, even when they are very poor, unskilled, and have no government support. Witness the number of Mexicans who illegally emigrate to the US, despite the risks involved, as obvious evidence of that.

So what is this policy really about, if it’s not for the benefit of the immigrants? It’s to protect New Zealanders from, even possibly, having to help out poor people from overseas. I think Matt’s stated our position on that pretty clearly:

When did we think it was alright to say we are shutting people, often people that are much poorer than ANYONE in NZ, out of the opportunity to work?