Chris Berg on Haiti and Immigration

Chris Berg makes the case for expanded immigration from Haiti to the West:

According to a 2008 study by the Centre for Global Development, Haitian immigrants in the US earn on average six times more than equally educated Haitians who stay home. It would be more effective and efficient to allow Haitians to move to other countries than wait for the international community or aid organisations or the Haitian Government to repair two centuries of institutional failure.

Immigration away from Haiti will actually help Haiti. Foreign aid to the country may be substantial, but it is overwhelmed by what expat Haitians send home. In 2008, foreign governments gave Haiti $US912 million. Haitian expats sent back at least $US1.3 billion, according to the most conservative estimates. Other estimates suggest unreported remittances to Haiti might account for up to a third of Haiti’s total GDP.

And while much foreign aid is delivered directly to the Haitian Government (which doesn’t have a wonderful track record in using it well), these remittances go straight to the Haitian people.

I think it’s great that American celebrities hosted a telethon that raised $57 million for Haiti. But a one-time infusion of $57 million pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars in remittences that could be generated every year if we allowed a significant number of Haitian nationals work in the United States. That’s the cause American celebrities should be promoting if they really want to help the Haitian people.

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