BBC World Service

Sell the right to immigrate to the highest bidder?

Steve Evans Aug 5, 2010
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BBC World Service

Sell the right to immigrate to the highest bidder?

Steve Evans Aug 5, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Anybody who’s followed the debate over Arizona’s new immigration law knows how difficult it can be. Now, an American Nobel Laureate, Gary Becker, is proposing a radical solution: Why not auction off the right to a green card? The BBC’s Steve Evans reports.


Steve Evans: The idea is to sell the right to immigrate to the highest bidders. Then, argues Gary Becker, those with the ability to make money and contribute to the economy will be encouraged to offer the most.

Gary Becker: The argument is often that immigrants are getting a free ride, they’re using the welfare system and health care system. But now they would be paying, and maybe a significant amount.

The U.S. currently has about a million legal immigrants a year. But Becker says if they were paying, it may want to take more. He argues that an auction would also gain money for the American taxpayer.

Becker: A skilled engineer, graduates from the IIT in India, he could make probably $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 more per year by immigrating to the United States, and similar, maybe somewhat smaller, by going to the U.K. So he has enormous incentive to come, he could repay his loan probably two years.

And if they’re poor, Becker suggests they’d be able to borrow on the strength of future earnings.

In London, I’m the BBC’s Steve Evans for Marketplace.

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