People go to other countries to escape the – often combined – horrors of war, oppression, persecution and poverty. Wealthy and peaceful states that protect human rights within their borders, usually accept a number of the people looking for a more peaceful and just society. However, people looking merely for a more prosperous society and for opportunities to have a better life, are often not allowed to immigrate. Personally, I think this is wrong and unjust, because poverty is a human rights violation that is not essentially different from for example persecution on religious grounds. The reason governments give for refusing this kind of immigration are varied but mainly focus on the dangers of “importing poverty“.
One piece of evidence to substantiate this fear is the level of unemployment in migrant communities:
(source; solid line: unemployment among immigrants equal to unemployment among natives)
These data are not surprising because immigrants usually lack certain essential skills necessary to find their place in the labor market: language, networking, adequate education etc. Moreover, they often come to places that already have strained labor markets.
The following graph shows the hopeful fact that, in Australia at least, unemployment levels of immigrants drastically decrease after a number of years in the country, suggesting that once they have acquired some new skills and have learned the language, they integrate into the host society and economy. Instead of being a burden they can even contribute. (I didn’t find any similar data for other countries).
Some numbers on immigration can be found here.