On merit based Immigration

There is this building myth in the media by the likes of Chris Cuomo that immigrants to North America were somehow all the "huddled masses" of the fundraising poem written on the Statue of Liberty.

That is patently untrue - it was not the least capable and down on their luck people in Europe who emigrated to America (and Canada) in the early parts of the 20th century. If you were homeless, stupid or had no self-motivation you could not get onto the boat to book passage to the New World. In many ways it was the best and the brightest, the people who had the gumption and the ability and the courage that decided to embark on such a challenge. Not the meek and the docile. You think the village idiots booked passage to the New World? Think again.

And no wonder they did as well as they did when they arrived there. A great many of them. They were entrepreneurial and smart and go-getters. If your grandparents were immigrants think of the family memories of them. Were they the people who sat around doing nothing, complaining a lot and expecting the government to feed them and clothe them? I bet you that is not the case for vast majority of them.

Do you think I was down on my luck and with no options for anything to do back home when I decided to go to Grad School at Yale in 1983? Really - how do you figure that?

So the "selection" at that time was taking place at the point of departure. Only those with enough innate ability even got to the boats. Because now everyone can buy a plane ticket, things have to be different. It makes all the sense in the world to have a merit based system for immigration (and refugee programs have nothing to do with that).

As for mass migrations to escape war and in particular exodus caused by Nazi persecution of Jews - the single biggest impetus to American science came from that. Those folks would have scored in the top 1% of any merit based system. Half of Los Alamos was made up of immigrant European scientists as was Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies which included Einstein, an immigrant. He would have scored pretty highly I would think as would Tesla, Von Neumann, Elon Musk or Andy Grove and Sergey Brin.


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