More on Other Nations' Migration Policies

By David North on November 6, 2009

As I suggested in an earlier blog, there is much to be learned from other nations' attempt to rationalize their immigration policies, and one of the good places to find out about such matters is the Australian scholarly publication People and Place.

Sometimes you can read about how other nations have sought to solve problems common to all nations of immigration, and sometimes you can read about problems that they are having that may well descend on the U.S. in the near future.

In the second category I would place this People and Place article: "The Cooking-Immigration Nexus" by Bob Birrell, Ernest Healy, and Bob Kincaid, vol 17, no. 1. Australia's private, for-profit vocational schools, at least those teaching kitchen skills, may have found an economic opportunity their U.S. counterparts have not, or, more likely, have not yet found.

These Aussie businesses bring in paying overseas students who hope to use their new skills to obtain jobs in Australia. The authors say that these students, at the end of their training, have not reached Aussie-levels of cooking expertise. (Given my memory of Aussie food some years ago, that suggests that these alien cooks are clearly not world-class.)

The numbers of Australian visas issued to would-be alien cooks have risen sharply, the article says, from 951 in 2005-06 to 3,251 in 2007-08; bear in mind that Australia has about 1/15th the population of the U.S.

In contrast, the M visa class in the U.S., which covers vocational skills of all kinds, involved 4,912 visas in FY 2004 rising to 10,754 visas in FY 2008, according to the State Department. Thus our vocational schools are not educating proportionately as many alien students as are the Down Under cooking schools, alone.

Just why the U.S. should issue visas so that foreign students can study cooking, hair dressing, or auto mechanics is, of course, a good question which could use some scholarly input.

It would be great it some grad student would devote a thesis to what is happening in the M visa program – as we well know, substantial and growing flows of new arrivals have made use of previously obscure visa categories, such as the L visas for Intracompany Transferees. It would be helpful to know, for instance, what percentage of M students (as opposed to the more numerous F students), abuse their visas.

Among other recent articles of interest in People and Place are these:

"High Net Migration During a Period of No Net Job Growth: Implications for Young Job Seekers" by Ernest Healy, vol. 17, no. 3. Dealing with migration into Australia, Healy points out that in the period July 2008 to July 2009 the labor force grew by 166,000 with 88% of the increase coming from net migration, but there was no increase in the number employed, hence there was an increase in unemployment. This, he writes, adversely impacted people 15-34, but not older workers.

"Pointing the Way? Managing UK Immigration in Difficult Times" by Janet Dobson and John Salt, vol. 17, no. 2. While both Canada and Australia have used a points system to help manage immigration for many years – giving more points to what the government regards as needed immigrants as opposed to less needed ones – that system is new to the UK, and is described in this article. The system, once in operation, gives governments considerably more flexibility than America's approach of setting ceilings through legislative mandates; it takes years, or more often decades, to change these numbers by congressional action.