There’s nothing progressive about hostility to immigrants

In Blog by Philippe Legrain0 Comments

Plus: migration and services trade; refugee entrepreneurs in Australia

Is a hardline position on immigration the key to electoral success for the beleaguered centre-left? Denmark’s Social Democrats certainly think so. They took first place in a general election this month after arguing that immigrants threaten the country’s social cohesion and generous welfare state. The far-right Danish People’s Party, whose line that message echoed, suffered significant losses.

But notwithstanding the Danish Social Democrats’ victory, opposing immigration is not the answer. Though some voters have deserted centre-left parties for populists who blame immigrants for everything, no self-respecting progressives should be aping the far right. Principles aside, such a strategy will generally backfire.

Read my article for Project Syndicate in full.

Previously, we have also argued that it is wrong both in principle and in practice for the centre-right to ally with the far-right. 


Even in a digital age, trading services often requires people to move too

The internet makes the world feel smaller. Yet services trade is still constrained by geography – a 10% increase in distance between countries tends to reduce services trade between them by 7% – and it often requires people to move too, OPEN Senior Fellow Sam Lowe points out.

Barriers to people moving often curtail investment, in-person services provision and the remote selling of services. For example, the tighter visa rules introduced by President Donald Trump to cut immigration also hamper foreign businesspeople on short business trips. His restrictions on H-1B visas for temporary skilled migrants impede the outsourcing of IT services to Indian companies. Technology companies are increasingly investing in the Canadian city of Toronto to bypass tighter US immigration rules, as Jack Graham highlighted for OPEN.

The reliance of services trade on the mobility of people in a particularly pressing issue for Brexit Britain, which is desperate to boost the services exports in which it specialises but is also intent on restricting immigration further once it leaves the EU.

Read Sam’s excellent piece for OPEN in full.


Refugee entrepreneurs in Australia

Refugees are the most entrepreneurial migrants in Australia and are nearly twice as likely to start a business as people born in Australia. 

That is the headline finding of a ground-breaking new report on how to make the most of refugee entrepreneurship in Australia co-published by OPEN and the Centre for Policy Development, a leading Australian think-tank. 

We estimate that an ambitious but achievable target of launching 1,000 new refugee businesses each year could yield nearly A$100 million in annual economic and fiscal gains. Within ten years, the boost to the economy could be nearly $1 billion a year. There would be large social benefits too, not
least because economic participation is vital to successful settlement and social cohesion.

To deliver those benefits, Seven Steps to Success: Enabling Refugee Entrepreneurs to Flourish sets out a menu of policy recommendations based on Australian experience and international best practices.

Read the report in full here.

Make those who displace refugees pay

OPEN Advisory Board member Senator Ratna Omidvar has tabled a bill in the Canadian Senate that would authorise Canadian courts to take the frozen assets of foreign officials whose misrule creates forced displacement and other humanitarian needs. These funds could then be sent to organisations helping those victimised such as UNHCR.

Currently, the Magnitsky Act and other legislation allows the Government of Canada to freeze the assets of corrupt foreign officials. The proposed Frozen Assets Repurposing Act would build on this precedent.

Find out more on Senator Omidvar’s website.

Facts and figures

70.8 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes globally in 2018. Source: UNHCR This is an underestimate because while

0.5 million Venezuelans forced out of their country have applied for asylum 

4 million are estimated to have fled.


Have a great week.

Philippe

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