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Eureka: More on immigration Eureka: More on immigration
by Jay Gutman
2017-12-10 07:02:36
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First, there's a difference between first, second and third generation immigrants, between wealthy immigrants and immigrants from a humble economic backgrounds. Second, easy access to citizenship is increasingly frowned upon by immigrants as it tends to give liberals free votes. Third, immigrants tend to be more culturally flexible and accept work conditions and pay conditions that locals would tend not to accept, such as pay cuts.

imm1_400The argument that defeats me is when politicians say “I'm the descendent of an immigrant too, and look at how I have adjusted” when they are in fact second, third or fourth generation immigrants. First generation immigrants have their struggles and tend to keep the option of going back home as a safety net. Let's say that Algerian immigrants in France will tend to teach themselves and their children to love their native Algeria, because as we all know, job security is not always taken for granted, and if you lose your job and can't find another one, you'll have to go back to your native village. So a lot of first generation Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian or Malian immigrants in France will teach their children their native language, rituals, traditions, culture because they are only one lay-off away from hitting the plane back home.

Now when second generation immigrants reach their adult lives and decide to settle in the host country, say France, they tend to assimilate a bit more. Their children, the third generation immigrants, will tend to be fully assimilated, and the native culture of their grand parents will be something exotic to them at best.

Now because first generation immigrants were not always fluent in the local language, not always educated and often had no idea how the education system and labor market of the host country works, they don't always mentor or teach their children how to adapt to the host environment. In France for example, first generation immigrant parents often don't know that there are different universities that have different prestige attached to them. They don't know that the French labor market tends to value work experience and degrees, but also club membership and association membership, volunteer work and so on. That is French companies don't want someone who applies just for the money. Parents don't always teach that to their children. This often means idle children who are not sure what the education and labor market demands are. At best their children find a job, at worst they have no labor options.

Now I hear the voices saying “I'm an Algerian immigrant in France and all my children went to Sciences-Po and all are going to try the ENA.” Indeed, France has also been a refuge for semi-retired or laid off high ranking Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian or Malian officials who know how the French system works, sometimes because they themselves studied there. The values they teach their children are very different than those a first generation immigrant from a more humble background would teach their children. Other children from humble backgrounds just happened to be lucky to meet mentors in their lives who taught them how the system works.

To the second point. A vast majority of immigrants being lower middle class or working class, an easy path to citizenship would mean easy victories for left-wing parties. In the 1970s in France when the path to citizenship became significantly easier, there were easy wins for the Socialist Party, and comfortable Parlimanentary presences for the Communist party in the 1980s and 90s. Naturalized citizens who are factory workers tend to vote for the Communists or Socialists and a million votes can make all the difference.

I use the French example a lot because it is probably the only country that has had a continuous flow of immigrants over the last century and a half, mostly concentrated in Paris and the suburbs. This differs from most other European countries who either limited immigration with harsh policies such as Germany, whose waves of immigrants are more recent such as Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia. The United States has been using a lottery system for the past two decades and part of the deal is you need to have graduated high school or five years' work experience, contrasting with the more liberal policies a lot of countries have where everyone's welcome.

Since France has made it significantly more difficult for immigrants to obtain citizenship and keep their work permits, along with some anti-immigrant propaganda from the right, the left has been shrinking in France. The French socialist party has not been able to find ways to remove its current label: the party of immigrant workers and politically ambitious pseudo-activist students.

Canada and Australia have had the same right-left divide over immigration exactly because immigrant votes tend to go to the left. If the American right is “crusading” against immigration, that is because naturalized immigrants tend to vote for the Democrats.

To the third point, flexibility and multiculturalism. Immigration makes the joy of fast-food lovers and food bloggers, but tends to be a nightmare for teachers. The bosses of immigrants tend to be very happy. Let me elaborate on this.

Immigration tends to bring changes to any city's architecture, food, fashion or even value and belief systems. Indian immigration has attracted its load of vegetarian eco-conscious hipsters, Islam has become popular among working class people of all backgrounds, while Buddhism has become popular among some philosophy amateurs. Pentacoastal churches, which are basically Christian Churches who reject Jesus Christ and claim the Messiah is Nigerian, Korean or Filippino are attracting people from around the world. Music, sports, or leisure involves almost every country in the world in some cities.

The teacher's nightmare: immigrants. Because of reasons I listed above, having parents who don't know how the system works can be a blessing for the student and a curse for teachers. Immigrant children can tell their parents whatever pleases them and basically get away with it, often leading to poor academic performance and in some cases poor classroom behavior. In some countries parents never went to school and are not sure what their child is supposed to do in school, while other countries, mainly East Asian countries, had mandatory school since the 1950s and very rigid ranking systems where the winner takes it all, meaning that East Asian parents can get angry at anything other than an A+.

The bosses' dream. Migrant workers. The dumber the better as they say. Because migrant workers tend to have few other options than to work and to keep their jobs, they will tend to work harder and be more loyal than locals. They will accept delays in pay, pay cuts, changes in shifts, last-minute decisions, and will not quit at the first rebuke. They also tend to be more careful about how to deliver properly and tend to do a better job at delivering tasks. More importantly, they tend to accept to take risks locals would not take, as they often have little sense of what the local laws are regarding accidents or insurance. You lose a leg, you lose your job, something locals know but immigrants often don't.

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