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In many parts of the world there's a very active discussion on the economic effects of immigration. In society and therefore in politics too. Certainly in the welfare states of Western Europe (where migrants are welcome, but aren’t allowed to work during their asylum process) this has become a huge issue.

This article is written from out a neutral non-political perspective. So no word on ‘importing people without any real chance for success in the adapting societies/economies’, nor on ‘too fast too much import of other dominant cultures that are in conflict with the domestic culture’ as anti immigration sound bytes. Nor any word on ‘importing young demographics keeps demographics out of the chanceless gray/old zone’ nor on ‘depopulated cities/regions like Detroit need immigration otherwise they will die’. We leave these (often quite contrary) visions for what they are: contrary opinions on one subject (and maybe we think that all those 4 arguments have some sort of truth in them). But we leave them: on contrary / polarized opinions it’s hard to grow any progress: Therefore we avoid all these arguments and thereby the attached discussions. Let others fight each other with all their contrary opinions: we like more a pragmatic approach: what can be done to improve existing situations at low overhead (= low risk) and low cost (= low barrier) methods.

We think that there’s a general rule that applies in almost all situations: "That what makes you strong is also your weakest point". And reversely said: "That what makes you weak is also your strongest point". Let’s see or this rule also applies to immigrants. Their dual cultural setting could hinder them in getting along in the new nation they’ve gone to. This is the side that has been highlighted primarily on this subject. But there’s another side to this issue that not has been highlighted yet. That other side of the same coin is that they have something that others those have that much: ties with their homeland (private foreign relations).

This is where the hidden treasure of migrants can be found. They have the relations abroad on which trade relations can grow. Governments should recognize this potential and explore it. These wide and diverse network of relations could be transferred into a beyond any expectation export engine.

This would deliver their guestland / stepmotherland huge economic progress. It would also deliver more symbiosis between the indigenous population and the immigrants. The immigrants would deliver huge demand for any product (industrial, immaterial, agricultural and aquacultural) produced in the economy that adopted them, and improve the economy of that nation significant. This would also reduce the amount of tension between those two groups in a nation, delivering not only economic improvement but also societal improvement. It would also steer the governments in filtering the immigrant flow to a more diverse type (as that would increase the economic reach of the nation). On top of that all it would support the reduction of tensions between nations (nations that are connected by trade have the tendency not to heat each other that much).

Regardless one’s political view on new immigration: the migrants who are currently in a nation are like there to stay. Finding ways to make them part of the economy (making them from costs into contributors) is something everybody on agrees.

Governments in the past liked connections to foreign nations for trade/export/economic reasons. First that where harbours and sealines, harbours and sealines brought cooperation treaties (see for example, later on rail connections and train stations where added to this mix, further later on that airlines and airports came into this mix too. These days new digital infra like international fibers and internet exchanges/hubs are very much wanted by governments. The above described virtual human network is another functional layer/potential on top of / contributing to this.

How to activate this potential? The first thing needed is that governments start to see this potential. The second thing needed is that the communicate it to their population. The third thing to do is building a facilitating environment, both here and abroad in the respective nations. Governmental centers (a step further than consulates) that delivers information on this trade. All these three actions demand for more detailed information for which this initial interest generating mentioned page is not the place to deliver it.

A remark regarding both the right wing total open immigration for union busting / wages near slavery level reasons and the left wing total open immigration for human sensitive reasons: Those two flows (when not done wisely) destroy the soil their strong economy and peaceful society is build on. The same could be said of those who are total immigration phobic: without trade nations have a hard time to survive. All those involved in immigration and/of politics should make once in their life time mayonnaise by hand to learn about immigration. That will learn them a lot on getting a desirable result/outcome. Immigration is all about the right ingredients, the right temperature, the right setting, the right mix and the right actions and the right time.

Two final thoughts delivering more generic food for thought: 1) Why should integration be homogenization? Why could everyone not just stay themselves within the laws of the new nation? 2) Why could people ever think that social welfare states and open immigration compatible? A nation as Canada integrates those two thoughts: Social integration is no agenda for them, economic integration is the only goal of them. Nobody enters Canada if they can't prove that they can sustain themselves or if someone other delivers the state a guarantee for them (delivers a self restriction mechanism within in the immigrants communities). Also the first 4 years immigrants must pay taxes and can't apply for any unemployment or other benefits. Canada thrives by this all also thanks to their immigrants.

The above described 'Immigrants and Trade' model could be part of reaching desirable outcomes.

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Gijs Graafland / Planck Foundation / Amsterdam

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