Friday, October 21, 2011
A recent LA Times article, discusses a new bipartisan Senate bill which would grant new homeowner visas to individuals seeking to come to the United States who spend at least $500,000 on a residential property. The goal of this legislation is to encourage foreign investment as a means of stimulating the American economy, and to remove existing disincentives for the well-off who wish to move to the United States. These individuals would also be able to bring spouses with them, as well as children. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that this legislation is also intended to encourage people to come to the United States to spend their money, not only to acquire a job that would otherwise go to an American citizen. These new immigrants would be ineligible for many US social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
I think the intentions - and probably results - of this legislation are good, but is this really the area of immigration law that we should be focused on reforming? Yes, this new program will probably lead to much-needed economic stimulation here in the United States by encouraging foreign investment from people who will permanently settle in and contribute to American society. But should this really be our priority?
There are thousands of individuals from all across the world who would jump at the chance to enter the United States. Many of them are fleeing persecution, famine, disease, poverty, and other horrendous socioeconomic circumstances, but we make them prove to us why they should join our society before we offer them protection. Many others would probably live a normal and prosperous life if they were to remain in their country, but they would like to move here nonetheless for one reason or another.
Our society is bursting at the seams, and we can't let everyone in. We only have room for so many. Should we work tirelessly to make space for those who desperately need our help, or for those who don't? Should we encourage certain people to join us while we continue to enforce a system that discourages others? I don't know the answers to these questions, and they're certainly not black or white.
I'm just not sure that our priorities lie in the right place when we're creating immigration incentives for a group of people who objectively don't need our help, while we deport those who do by the hundreds of thousands.