I see totally free trade in goods and services as a higher priority than unrestricted immigration. The west needs willing immigrants, not those compelled by poor prospects at home to leave their cultures and (in m any cases) families behind.
Sebastian Mallaby on Migrating to Modernity in today’s Washington Post (emphasis added):
In “Let Their People Come,” a new book published by the Center for Global Development, Lant Pritchett reports that if rich countries permitted extra immigration equivalent to 3 percent of their labor force, the citizens of poor countries would gain about $300 billion a year. That’s three times more than the direct gains from abolishing all remaining trade barriers, four times more than the foreign aid given by governments and 100 times more than the value of debt relief.
Mallaby says there is a downside to migration — poor countries suffer a brain drain. Over the long term I’d bet brains are not zero sum — a brain drain really just means increased returns to education. Mobility means more people in the developing world will pursue higher education. Add to that increased flow of knowledge and capital to the developing world from migrants and concern over “brain drain” sounds very much like yet another disingenuous excuse for keeping the current system of inter-jurisdiction apartheid in place.
As for “reluctant” immigration, who is to judge whether those moving from Mexico to California are more or less reluctant than those moving from West Virginia to California, and why should jurisdictions make a paternalistic decision for either?