Equity, Efficiency or Institutional Reform

Equity, Efficiency or Institutional Reform
Many years ago I worked for the Bilingual Vocational English Training Program in Denver, Colorado. The goal was to assist immigrants (largely from Southeast Asia) from all over the world learn English and develop vocational skills. This job would lead me to Thailand, where I ended up spending several years working in the Refugee Processing Center in Panatnikhom, teaching refugees immigrating to the United States English, vocational skills, and cultural orientation. The thinking was to provide the immigrant with skills to be able to pay taxes, be economically self-sufficient, and assimilate into American culture.
For those of us working in the Refugee Processing Center, the goal was not “spiritual” nor was it exclusively economic efficiency, though the cost of providing English and vocational training in Thailand was much less expensive than it would have been if provided in the United States. The focus was on helping to level the playing field for the immigrant once he or she reached the United States, assisting them in compensating for asymmetric information, by providing the education and orientation to American culture before the refugee actually immigrated. This was the beginning of an attempt to provide a mechanism for institutional reform of the exclusionary immigration policy that did not begin to change until Legislative changes in 1965.
George J. Borjas (Heavens Door) would argue that one of the primary questions to be answered is how many and who should be granted immigration status, that we need to consider whether the benefits of immigrant populations outweigh the costs associated with immigration. Borjas makes a compelling argument based on valid sets of data analyzed with economic precision.
It may be assumed that this kind of cost-benefit analysis can help us understand the value of immigrants as human capital. This kind of argument runs counter to concerns that there is an increase utilization of social services by immigrant persons. Institutional reform policies aimed at addressing equity issues and concepts of fairness. Wherever there is a perception that income (tax dollars) are being redistributed in a way that seems unfair, as with the provision of social services (education, healthcare, welfare etc) for immigrant populations, then political intervention may be necessary for the development of a new US Immigration Policy.
Based on having spent a significant part of my life living and working in other countries and cultures (some industrialized countries, some developing third world countries) I am convinced the immigration debate must also address the fears and prejudices that already influences who comes to the United States. Fear and prejudice is an obstacle mankind (not just the United State in determining immigration policy) must find a way to overcome. We are moving into an electronic age where the world is connected in a manner never before experienced.

Fred Heacock,

anonymous on 2005-05-05 02:20:17 from the California State University Sacramento department - recs (81)
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