Problems with Letting Someone Else Make a Nation's Migration Decisions

By David North on March 30, 2012

One of the favorite, sneaky ploys of the more-migration people is to arrange — they usually say "just in this one special case" — for someone else to make a nation's immigration decisions.

In the news lately, though not quite labeled this way, are knotty immigration questions in Canada and the UK; questions that arose, or may arise, because of this someone-else-decides mechanism.

A perfectly terrible example of this kind of policy took place in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the U.S. territory just north of Guam, when local politicians were given authority over immigration by a thoughtless Congress. The islands were soon overwhelmed with migrants and sweatshops thrived until Congress stepped in a few years ago to put those islands under the national immigration law.

We still have such policies, often in miniature. It is the Governor of Guam who, unlike all other governors, decides who can use the H-2B nonimmigrant worker program on his turf; some U.S. Indian tribes have taken over the State Department's power to issue passport-like documents, but only for members of the tribes in question.

The current overseas stories relate to Quebec and Francophone Chinese at the moment and the worrisome future prospect of a loose Scots immigration policy should that land ever free itself from the United Kingdom.

French Canadian Quebec always has been treated with kid gloves by Ottawa for fear that, if crossed, the province would secure independence; London has somewhat the same set of fears about Scotland. (Coincidentally, 600-700 years ago, France and Scotland were often allies against the English.)

As a result of those current Canadian worries, Quebec controls its own immigration; there are no ceilings for the province, though there are elsewhere in Canada. Further, Quebec's policy is to demand a knowledge of French. But once an immigrant has been admitted to Quebec the Canadian constitution allows freedom of movement, so the newcomers can settle wherever they like. If they are from China, they head to Toronto or Vancouver. So some of the migration to those cities is controlled not by those cities, not by those provinces, not by the national government, but by the provincial government in Quebec.

So, according to a recent AP article, lots of prosperous Chinese interested in coming to Canada, but unable to get visas from the national government, have started taking French lessons.

If the Francophone Chinese are participating in a "what is" situation, the British question is a "what if" matter. If Scotland frees itself from the rest of the UK, and sets up its own immigration policies, as is highly likely, the result would be something like the Francophones coming to Quebec, and moving onto other places, as there are not likely to be border controls set up between a newly separated England and Scotland. So London is worried about the content of a free Scotland's immigration policy as it certainly would have spill-over effects on England.

All this is covered more thoroughly in a recent news story in the Scotsman, the Edinburgh daily.

The general conclusion from all this is that it is better that immigration policy be made directly and that it be made at the national level.

For more on this, see my 2010 CIS Backgrounder "Beware of Indirect Immigration Policy Making".