Immigration is a highly contentious topic in modern societies, with almost all of the different regimes across the OECD showing failures on some measure. As populist responses increase to rising levels of immigration, a policy solution must exist that assuages the concerns of those who have gripes with the current system in order to maintain political stability. Amongst the myriad of potential immigration policies, the one that stands out with the most suitable incentives is that of private sponsorship.
Private sponsorship asks that either an individual or an organisation from the host country vouches for the potential immigrant before they arrive. They bear the risks associated with immigration. For example, if the individual commits a crime, the sponsor would have to pay the costs of judicial process and deportation. The added benefit of allowing private organisations or individuals to sponsor immigrants is that the government no longer needs to pry into personal affairs, asking why someone is coming or why someone is a sponsor. It would simply be assumed that by bearing risk, the sponsoring party is making a rational decision. This incentive results from the skin in the game principle, that those who bear the risk of an action are more likely to make better decisions.
Private sponsorship regimes prove superior to current systems by removing the bureaucratic issues currently associated with immigration. Among these problems is the arbitrariness of certain features, such as quotas or occupational restrictions, which change over political cycles at great costs to current and potential immigrants. Another problem is the application of Goodhart’s Law, the principle that when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. Points-based, and other skills or aptitude-based immigration systems all succumb to the fact that by using a quantitative measure that correlates to success as an immigrant, the relationship breaks down once the rules of the system are known. These together lead to inefficiencies that prevent adequate coping with high volume of movement, and post-migration inefficiencies that pose threats to the mental health and social integration of migrants.
This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 27, 2017.