Fareed Zakaria – Immigration lessons for the U.S. from around the world – Getting them in and keeping them in!

Last night I watched Fareed Zakria host a very interesting show:

Immigration lessons for the U.S. from around the world

Mr. Zakaria – Thank’s for a job well done! I assume the Podcast will be available soon.

A fair characterization of the “Readers Digest” version  would be:

1. In certain parts of the world with declining populations, immigration is a necessity for the survival of the nation. He uses Japan as the example.

2. As important as immigration is, some countries manage immigration better than others. The countries of the EU have NOT done a good job assimilating immigrants from outside the EU into their cultures.

3. Australia and Canada are countries that need immigration and they have done a good job of managing immigration and assimilating immigrants into their cultures. (My understanding is that approximately 50% of the population of the City of Toronto was born outside of Canada. Although Toronto has its share of problems, the problems are not based on cultural diversity.)

4. The U.S. could  learn a great deal from other countries. When one considers the issue of immigration it needs to be considered from both the perspective of:

A. Legal Immigration – How to proactively and intelligently bring people into the country

On this note it is important to recognize that the U.S. absolutely needs immigration. Some of the reasons are:

– the U.S. like most Western countries has a declining birth rate, an aging population and an inability to fund government services for that aging population. It needs to bring in younger people to broaden its tax base and essentially pay for a population that is aging.

– the U.S. desperately needs workers with the skills demanded by U.S. companies. Specifically those  with advanced degrees in math and technology. Mr. Zakaria suggests that the shortage is approximately two million. In other words, U.S. companies cannot find the workers they need to run their companies. Should U.S. companies leave the United States in search of a better work force? Does it make sense that a “super bright” young person from India comes to MIT, earns that advanced degree, wants to remain in the U.S.,  and then returns to India because of an immigration policy that won’t allow them to stay? How stupid this that? Shouldn’t the U.S. automatically allow certain graduate students to have that “Green Card?”

B. Illegal Immigration – How to deal with the problem of people moving to the U.S. and living and working illegally. In fairness, Canada does not have a significant problem with illegal immigrants. Perhaps the climate is too cold. The U.S. perceives itself to have a problem with illegal immigrants. Assuming the U.S. does have a number of illegal immigrants, one might ask whether this is really a problem.  New York’s Mayor Bloomberg was interviewed by Mr. Zakaria. He noted that:

– there is a very low crime rate in the community of illegal immigrants;

– illegal immigrants seem willing and able to take jobs that U.S. citizens will not;

– illegal immigrants pay taxes;

– illegal immigrants are low users of government services.

Comment: If this is how illegal immigrants behave, I am not sure why the U.S. is not encouraging more illegal immigration. Wouldn’t it be better to find a way to deport the legal immigrants who are a drain on government services?

Towards An Effective and Rational U.S. Immigration Policy

Good political leadership can turn a bad situation around. So, at least in theory not all is lost. How can this be done?  The starting point is “Form Nation” is an extremely dysfunctional political entity. While the rest of the world is progressing, “Form Nation” creates more forms, creates more criminals (by creating more laws) and works hard at increasing the regulation of people’s lives and stripping them of their constitutional rights. Because of it’s “Nationalistic Narcissism” it can’t see the world as anything but a reflection of itself. But, enough of my rant today … Getting back to business …

North Bay, Ontario – A Profile of a “Turn Around” – Getting Different Government Departments Working Together

North  Bay is a small city in Northern Ontario. It has seen its share of economic bad times. Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris hails from North Bay. In any event, a previous Mayor of North Bay had a problem. The problem was attracting business to North Bay. He recognized the frustration that businesses experienced when considering establishing themselves in North Bay – all these different government departments. Examples include: zoning, building, environmental, tax, etc. He recognized that all of these departments would have an impact on the decision to locate in North Bay. In other words, various government departments worked together to anticipate and solve potential problems. A business would know what it was “looking at” and what needed to be done.

Therefore, he did something mindlessly simple and unprecedented. He invited a prospective business to a meeting where representatives from ALL the relevant government departments would be present. All issues recognized and all questions answered at the same time.

This is a model that the U.S. could use. Of course, present at the meeting should be the IRS and Treasury to inform would be immigrants in clear terms what will happen to them if they maintain foreign bank accounts, etc. The current policy of the U.S. government is to keep all this nastiness a secret until it is too late.

The failure to include “Tax and Compliance Education” in the immigration process

It’s mindlessly simple. By allowing the IRS to come after legal immigrants for failing to report foreign bank accounts (how could anybody know of this) the U.S. is:

– giving legal immigrants every reason to leave

– potential immigrants every reason to go to Canada instead

– tarnishing the reputation of the U.S. as having a just society

This is simply not conducive to a rational immigration policy. The effects of this will be far reaching. Some may point to statistics that suggest that the U.S. is a “high demand” location for immigrants. Possibly. But, the real issue is whether the U.S. will be a “high demand” location for those math and technology types – the ones that the country so desperately needs. This group will have a choice of destination. Canada and Australia are very high demand places for immigration. They are also countries that won’t subject an immigrant to “life altering” penalties if they violate laws they didn’t know about.

The Most Costly Mistake Ever To U.S. Immigration

This one is the fault of the IRS.  The fact that the IRS has  allowed a single legal immigrant to enter  OVDI because they didn’t know about  FBAR requirements and other aspects of U.S. taxation is an embarrasment  to the United States. The OVDI program (with the help of the “cross border professionals”) has caused massive and irreparable damage to the immigrant community. Not all of these immigrants will leave. Many will leave before they are subject to the “Exit Tax”. But, you can be sure that their friends and family members will look to other countries as their destination of choice. The IRS commissioner has  publicly stated that OVDI is a success because approximately 30,000 people entered it and the IRS grossed approximately 3 billion dollars from this  “FBAR Fundraiser“. When one evaluates success one must consider both benefits and costs. What do you think OVDI might have cost the U.S. in “good will”? I suspect that by any rational standard the IRS has orchestrated and  presided over the most costly mistake in the history of U.S. immigration policy. Of course, it may be some  time the real damage is apparent.

Oh, and by the way: these legal immigrants who did not know about FBARs are NOT “tax cheats”! Just hard working, honest people, trying to take care of their families, and participate in (what they thought) was the American Dream! Will they encourage others to immigrate to the U.S.? Not likely. The fear and stress of possible tax non-compliance has destroyed the lives of many immigrants. The loss to the U.S. is the gain of Canada and Australia.


4 thoughts on “Fareed Zakaria – Immigration lessons for the U.S. from around the world – Getting them in and keeping them in!

  1. recalcitrantexpat

    I also watched the show and was equally appalled to see absolutely no mention was made of U.S. tax policy as being a hinderance to immigration. The U.S. legislators are just oblivious to the issue because they are fixated on their monarchial view of the relationship that exist between citizen and state.

    U.S. citizens and residents are nothing more than subjects of the crown. The U.S. grants them the right to exist and has the power to withdraw that right at anytime. Witness the powers of summary execution and indefinite detention that are given to the President by the National Defense Authorization Act.

    1. renounceuscitizenship


      Here is a comment on I put on a post at isaacbrocksociety.ca


      June 10, 2012 at 11:40 am

      “As I read these articles I realize that we are on the front line of a very important moment in history. We are witnessing/experiencing on a daily basis the end of the United States of America. The U.S. is like a chicken running around with its head cut off. Everybody but the chicken knows that the chicken is dead.

      At exactly the moment when the U.S. needs friends and support (think of the debt) it is creating enemies in every part of the world. Examples include:

      1. FATCA – Yes, let’s invade the financial sovereignty of other nations.

      2. Drone strikes in Pakistan – Yes, let’s invade the territorial sovereignty of other countries.

      3. Citizenship Based Taxation – Yes, let’s steal directly from other countries.

      4. FBAR – Yes, let’s make our citizens report on the financial activities of citizens and institutions of other countries

      5. U.S. immigrants – Yes, let’s attack them for not reporting bank accounts they have at home and didn’t know they should report

      6. Patriot Act – running roughshod over the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens

      7. The amount of debt owed to China – The interest payments on the debt provide a revenue stream to China to build the Chinese military

      the list goes on and on.

      But, I suspect that history will show that citizenship-based taxation will be identified as a major reason for the end of the U.S. After all, the U.S. has created about seven million enemies who they refer to as U.S. citizens. They have lost their overseas “Ambassadors of Goodwill” (and to think that they were at no cost to the U.S.)

      Well, as Forrest Gump would say:

      “Stupid is as stupid does.”

      The obvious question is why can’t the U.S. see this? The answer: the country is blinded by its own narcissism. None of the “Common Homelanders – Brave Jim in Houston”, “The Homelander Elite Core – Professor Ackerman and his ilk” nor the “U.S. government – Obama, Levin, Geithner, Kerry, etc.) is able to see what it is happening. They are completely blind.

      On this note see:


      Have any of the contributors to this blog considered the possibility that we are creating a document of major historical importance? Imagine if you could have read a blog of either the Loyalists or the Patriots during the years leading up to and during the American revolution? What a different story it would have told!

      Who knows, maybe Petros will be the “Paul Revere” of this era. Would the wisdom of “Just Me” qualify him to be the new Benjamin Franklin?


  2. Thatisme

    The USA not only has become unkind to immigrants but also have become very unking to emmigrants, that is Americans who want to live and work abroad.

    1. recalcitrantexpat

      People like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as do many others, wants to give green cards along with the diploma to any foreign student who graduates with at least a Masters in any of the four disciplines of; science, technology, engineering and math. Which makes you ask the question of whether or not along with that green card will also come papers which outline the tax reporting obligations, foreign account restrictions, and the restrictions on travel etc. that U.S. residency and citizenship entail?

      You also have to ask the question of whether or not the U.S. intends to compensate the home countries of these students for all of the effort that they put into to feeding, educating, building infrastructure etc. that the U.S. didn’t have to do? Will the U.S. tell these students that they must pay taxes to their former countries as an act of patriotism?

      The U.S. is unashamedly hypocritical. They refuse to play by their own rules and could care less about the fact that they predatory actions will mean that these nations will be incapable of raising their standards living if their educated citizens don’t return and help build their home economies.


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