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Wall Street Journal on Skilled Immigation
It is important because this article distinguishes "skilled" immigration versus "unskilled" immigration. This country needs more of the former as enounced several times by leaders of industry, academia and politics, but the latter issue is somewhat controversional because of its largely "illegal" nature in the U.S.
Regardless, this goes to show policy makers here need to be 'smart' and enourage 'smart' people to contribute to this country, as the Europeans are starting to do now...
EU's New Tack on Immigration
Leaders Talk Up 'Brain Circulation' To Cure Shrinking Work Force
By JOHN W. MILLER
February 10, 2006; Page A8
BRUSSELS -- Faced with a shrinking work force, Europe's leaders are looking for ways to attract talented foreigners, even as some countries on the Continent close their borders to other immigrants willing to work for lower wages.
Plans touted by Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini, the man charged with developing common immigration policies for the European Union, range from a new EU-wide "green card" that would allow skilled workers already in the 25-nation bloc to change countries without extra paperwork, to special temporary permits for seasonal workers.
"The U.S. and Australia have stricter rules, but they get the right people to immigrate, and once they're in, they integrate them, and give them benefits, education and citizenship" much faster than in the EU, Mr. Frattini said in an interview. Europe's work force is expected to shrink by 20 million people between now and 2030, according to the European Commission, and businesses complain regularly about a shortage of highly skilled personnel, even as unemployment rates in many EU countries remain high.
In Mr. Frattini's vision, a North African engineer could go to work in Europe, earn good money and return regularly to his hometown to start and maintain a business. Immigration policy in Europe is still up to individual countries. To sell the idea, Mr. Frattini uses the term "brain circulation" to counter accusations of a "brain drain" -- a phrase often used to criticize rich countries for sucking the talent and stalling the development of poor regions.
The challenge for Mr. Frattini is that in the face of pressure from unions and politicians worried about losing jobs to lower-wage newcomers, most EU national governments are jittery about welcoming more immigrants. Only three of the 15 Western European EU nations, for example, have opened their labor markets to the bloc's eight new Eastern European states.
While some countries are likely to resist opening their labor markets until forced to do in 2011, attitudes might be changing. Last weekend French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy echoed many of Mr. Frattini's ideas and proposed special immigration permits for skilled workers.
Plans to attract more immigrants are also a tough sell in developing countries that would lose their graduates and scientists. Mr. Frattini argues that successful migrants benefit their home economies when they work in Europe, because money they send home is an important part of many poor nations' gross domestic products.
In concrete terms, Mr. Frattini says the EU would promote brain circulation by including non-EU citizens in job databases and funding language and job-training courses in immigrants' home countries. Mr. Frattini also wants to develop work visas that will allow immigrants to return to start businesses in their home countries, without losing the right to work in Europe.
Some economists are skeptical. It is often difficult for immigrants to return home, and if economic conditions were good enough to merit investment, they probably wouldn't have left in the first place. "People left for a reason," says Jean-Pierre Garson, an economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The International Monetary Fund says immigrants dispatched $126 billion to their home countries in 2004 -- up from $72.3 billion in 2001 -- but there aren't any official figures on how much immigrants invest in businesses in their native countries.
So, would brain circulation work? Some immigrants say they agree in theory that investing accomplishes more than cash remittances. Anecdotal evidence suggests investments that pay off require patience, hands-on involvement, start-up capital and participation by local residents.
"Building is better," says Eric Chinje, a World Bank official living in Virginia who until recently had returned every two years to his hometown of Santa, Cameroon, with bags stuffed with dollars. "I'd take $5,000 and distribute among 100 to 200 people," he says. Three years ago, the 50-year-old Mr. Chinje set up a microcredit bank with the condition that villagers buy shares in the bank. Hundreds did, by getting money from relatives overseas, he says.
The bank started in April 2004 with a capital base of $50,000. So far, it has lent money to a cooperative to fund a storage facility and a truck to carry fruits and vegetables to city markets.
For an investment to really take off and make the kind of impact sought by Mr. Frattini, immigrant entrepreneurs say they need capital and connections.
Kemal Sahin came to Germany in 1973 from a small mountain village in central Turkey. He started the company he now runs, Sahinler Group, one of Europe's biggest textile companies. Mr. Sahin employs 11,000 people, including 9,000 at plants in Turkey, where he started moving production in 1984 to take advantage of skilled, inexpensive labor. His knowledge of Turkish, local customs and regulations allowed him to set up an efficient operation, he says. "I was familiar with how things work in Turkey, and it was easier for me than for my German colleagues to invest there."
--Andrea Thomas in Berlin contributed to this article.
Write to John W. Miller at email@example.com
Great article! Surely, it must have gotten John Miller atleast thinking what is going on in the US! What he has called a faster process in the US takes atleast 8-10 years since arrival in the US!
I am going to e-mail him, and would like others to do so too! Let us tell them the truth!
reply from john miller
Many thanks for your interesting email, which I forwarded to a colleague based in the United States.
I understand it must be hard for somebody in your situation. But anecdotal evidence and statistics suggest that however hard life is for immigrants in the United States, it's even harder for immigrants in Europe.
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