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Tim Harford (from among other things one of my favorite Radio 4 shows, More or Less) writes about why we should be grateful to immigrants. An idea I'm so unaccustomed to hearing my brain savors it like an exotic flavor.
Immigration inspires strong feelings, and those feelings aren’t of happiness and gratitude. That is a shame.

Is there a gut-based case that we should be grateful to immigrants? I’d like to think so.
Xenophobia is basically a "gut-based" conviction, which is why no amount of droning on about the economic benefits of immigration will counteract it; we need to fight this feeling with other feelings.

The first feelings-based counterattack, or lesson in being grateful, Harford suggests is "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you," which leads us to ponder why people from our country (and this is true in both the UK and U.S.) who leave it are called expats while incomers are migrants. Harford then points out Matthew Iglesias saying "he wouldn’t get away with describing white Americans without college degrees as people 'without merit'."

Same is true of Brits here: immigrants have to meet standards -- whether that be of education, employment history, evidence of private health care, proficiency in the English language, invasive amounts of biometric data, willingness to live without any kind of benefits for you or your family, or a willingness to let their relatives age and die thousands of miles away without the comfort of family nearby -- that would never be asked of native citizens.

While there is (rightly!) outrage at the thought of people in Britain needing to pay directly for health care or being denied essential welfare benefits, these things have already been happening to non-British people in this country for many years (and of course continue and worsen all the time) without the outcry or solidarity that we're starting to see now that it's good, ordinary British people.

Harford goes on to say "There are many analyses of the costs and benefits of immigration. What’s not widely appreciated is that most of them simply ignore any benefits to the migrants — expats — themselves."

Indeed this has always been one of my gripes: immigrants are talked about as if we can't even read or hear the conversations, much less be listened to.

And when you think about it, it's bizarre that the benefits of migration to the migrants are so universally overlooked. Despite all these deterents, despite the hostile environments put in place, loads of people still do migrate so there must be something in it for them. Us. See, even I am in the habit of talking about immigrants as an Othered group, because that's the discourse I associate with power and with the people's minds I want to change.

The rest of Harford's paragraph there is interesting too:
Given this handicap [of ignoring the benefits of immigration to immigrants, remember], it’s striking that many serious studies find some modest net economic benefits. If I told you that a school or a hospital could pass a cost-benefit test even after ignoring the benefits to the pupils or patients, you might reasonably conclude that the school and hospital were impressive organisations. You’d also tell me it was a very strange way to do cost-benefit analysis.
I just think it's really striking that I'm someone who talks and thinks about immigration, not to an academic standard but still quite a lot, and a lot of these arguments are either totally new to me or else some of my own facile bullet points (like talk about immigrants and not immigration, which this does flawlessly and without even having to call attention to the fact it's doing that) fleshed out and extrapolated pretty beautifully.

Economics gets a bad rap for being an inhumane way to think about immigrants, and other humans, but here's an economist blowing us all out of the water on that.
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