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Tom Toles
Posted at 07:20 AM ET, 11/26/2013

Drain cleaner

Let me come at immigration a different way. It gets discussed two ways and I’d like to introduce an amendment to one of them. A whole different dimension! And I don’t think it will likely help anything one bit.

The first way immigration gets discussed is the regular way. Numbers admitted, illegal entrants, border security, rights of immigrants, legal and illegal. This is a tangled ball and I have no plan to unravel it today.

The second way it gets talked about is that the US needs to attract more talent. More skilled, smart immigrants, or else we will lose our global leadership as the innovation country. This is what I want to respond to a bit, assuming for the moment that the premise is true. Which it might be, or might not. The usual way this gets challenged is that this policy hurts our own workers, by undercutting their job prospects and wages. I want to ask a different question.

If it’s true that we need to get more of the smarties here in order to remain the global innovation leader, here’s my question. Aside from its effect on workers here, what does this mean for the rest of the world, exactly? That we should drain off their innovators? And where, exactly, does that leave them? Do we want large areas of the world to be cleaned out of their bright, educated young people? What will the result of that be? And if brain drain is a real thing, and results in real problems for the drained region, what are the ethics of encouraging it? Just asking!

By  |  07:20 AM ET, 11/26/2013

 
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