Canada Benefits From Our Asinine Immigration Policies

For those who asked: the Kindle version of Living Together is now available.


Between the tariffs that are destroying the markets of America’s farmers and raising the price of consumer goods in the United States, and an insane and racist approach to immigration that is making it difficult for businesses to hire the people they need , Donald Trump has managed to vastly improve the economy… of Canada.

As Time Magazine has recently reported,

On a recent Tuesday, Neal Fachan walked down a dock in Seattle’s Lake Union and boarded a blue and yellow Harbour Air seaplane, alongside six other tech executives. He was bound for Vancouver to check on the Canadian office of Qumulo, the Seattle-based cloud storage company he co-founded in 2012. With no security lines, it was an easy 50-minute flight past snow-capped peaks. Later that day, Fachan caught a return flight back to Seattle.

Fachan began making his monthly Instagram-worthy commute when Qumulo opened its Vancouver office in January. Other passengers on the seaplanes go back and forth multiple times a week. Fachan says his company expanded across the border because Canada’s immigration policies have made it far easier to hire skilled foreign workers there compared to the United States. “We require a very specific subset of skills, and it’s hard to find the people with the right skills,” Fachan says as he gets off the plane. “Having access to a global employment market is useful.”

Half of America’s annual growth in GDP has been attributed to increasing innovation. While the media and politicians are focused on Trump’s crisis at the southern border, tech executives and economists warn that the growing delays and backlogs for permits for skilled workers at America’s other borders are a more significant challenge. The risk of losing both skilled workers and the companies that employ them to Canada and other more welcoming countries are arguably a bigger problem for our economic future than a flood of refugees–even if those refugees were the problem Trump and his white nationalist base insist they are.

“Increasingly, talented international professionals choose destinations other than the United States to avoid the uncertain working environment that has resulted directly from the agency’s processing delays and inconsistent adjudications,” testified Marketa Lindt, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, at a House hearing last week about processing delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Lindt’s organization finds that USCIS processing time for some work permits has doubled since 2014, a fact cited in a May lettersigned by 38 U.S. Senators on both sides of the aisle asking USCIS to explain the processing delays.

The backlogs in processing have particularly benefited our neighbor to the north. Canada has adopted an open-armed embrace of skilled programmers, engineers and entrepreneurs at the same time the U.S. is tightening its stance. Research shows that high-skilled foreign workers are highly productive and innovative, and tend to create more new businesses, generating jobs for locals. So each one who winds up in Canada instead of America is a win for the former, and a loss for the latter. “Really smart people can drive economic growth,” says Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank in Washington, D.C. funded in part by cable, pharmaceutical, television, and tech companies. “There are not that many people in the world with an IQ of 130, and to the extent that we’re attracting those people rather than the Canadians doing so, we’re better off.”

This is what happens when voters resentful of “smarty pants elitists” elect an intellectually-challenged President who is equally threatened by people who actually know what they’re doing, and consequently refuses to appoint competent people to important government positions.

We live in a complicated world. If the Trump Administration has demonstrated anything, it is that appointing ideologues, crooks and simpletons to manage that complexity is a recipe for disaster.


  1. I’m sure Canada has also been benefiting from our loss of tourist trade; it is a welcoming country with much to offer. CNN news this morning reported that major nations around the world are AGAIN warning against traveling to the United States due to lack of personal safety after THREE MASS SHOOTINGS IN ONE WEEK. This country probably requires fewer qualified immigrant workers today thanks to Trump’s “game board” tariff war; cutting our imports and exports and rising costs of everything, in short supply or not. Many of these rising costs are before the tariffs are in place; a system this country has operated under for many years. Hurricane destruction of citrus fruit groves in Gulf states means a shortage of produce; lowers the need for those migrant workers and price increases before the shortage begins. I think that is referred to legally as “price gouging” as is done with our gas prices on a regular basis.

    It is always FOLLOW THE MONEY; currently following the lack of money going into American pockets of farmers, businesses and taking money out of pockets of consumers who can ill afford the rising costs. America’s loss on many fronts is Canada’s gain; not only regarding qualified immigrants and all repercussions from that loss to us.

    Those in El Paso, Texas, who are currently warning Trump to “stay away” is a silent warning to tourism in that area as well as local residents now living in fear of simple shopping trips.

    “We live in a complicated world. If the Trump Administration has demonstrated anything, it is that appointing ideologues, crooks and simpletons to manage that complexity is a recipe for disaster.”

  2. Very interesting post, Shiela. We live here in Canada five plus months of the year. Yesterday, we shopped at COSTCO near Ottawa just off the 416 freeway. This store has only been open two years. The personnel are very upbeat and literally from around the world. The associate honoring my eye glass prescription given me in Indianapolis is from Hong Kong. Customers are speaking languages from afar, cheerful and friendly. An associate at the membership desk shared with me in pride that normally COSTCO expects to surpass profit margin in three years on a new store. She told me they passed profit margin within the first nine months. AND, we pay 13% in total value added tax (VAT). Canadians though wonder what is happening south of the border and consider our head of state far astray from being in bounds on diplomacy, both across border and treatment of citizens within. Trade tariffs effect Canadian businesses differently. It is very complex. Your point about attracting high end tech and medical intellect and skills well taken. Canada openly welcomed immigrants. But for Americans bringing guns even with a permit, you are much better off leaving your weapons at home if you want to enter Canada. Very strict and no nonsense.

  3. Jobs requiring skilled workers have been going unfilled in the US for years. Not only is our immigration policy terrible, but we seem to lack the ability to train new workers for skilled positions. In the very near future, we will not need store clerks, truck drivers, or waiters. We already don’t need coal miners or line workers in the automobile industry. IT will make many jobs obsolete.

    Lets start by having those filing for unemployment compensation take skills tests. Once we have those results, we can pay people to take training for jobs they are suited for. People tend to be good at the things they like doing, so we just might end up with a happier, more productive workforce.

  4. So you have to wonder why is America not producing the skilled workers that American businesses need??? A big problem is the enormous cost of higher education in the USA, whether it is trade schools or colleges. Other countries offer free or reduced cost tuition for students.

    America’s capitalistic model extends into higher education. This model means if your family is wealthy cost is no issue. Hell, you can even have mommy and daddy bribe officials to get you in the door. For the vast majority higher education is either a pipe dream, or vulture capitalism will step in and give you a student loan. Colleges and Trade Schools are profit centers here in the USA and run like any other business. There are even Scam Universities – Trump U. anyone???

    Higher education here in the USA is like Health Care – You can have it – If and only If, You can afford it.

  5. The loss of the benefit of undocumented workers and migrants who are willing to work for less has also effected this economy. It was on a Saturday morning in May that the Indianapolis CVS warehouse fired all undocumented workers without notice. They were more than likely replaced by local workers who required higher that minimum (or below) wages. Prices in CVS pharmacies were raised accordingly and I noticed several staff turnovers in my local CVS. The timing fit with Trump’s many threats of roundups throughout the country so I doubt it was only the CVS warehouse here; or that it was only CVS who took this sudden action and that it was not only taken in Indianapolis. Apparently the news of Trump’s presidency has not reached those who are still seeking asylum here; if they know…WHY would any of them want to come to this country today?

    If CVS knew they were undocumented to fire them; they must have known they were undocumented when they hired them. The problem in this country for decades appears to be the difficulty and expense of becoming documented…especially those brought here as infants or children. This issue has been ignored and shuffled into the background by administration after administration and Trump’s response to the situation holds no answers; especially for those whose untimely exodus from Central American countries coincided with his racist “solutions” and demands for HIS wall.

  6. Very well put, ML.

    The pipeline is also coming from China to our tech schools and then back, or to Canada. Cost of living…mainly, the cost of healthcare drives them to Canadian cities. Vancouver is bustling.

    Is this country “complex” or does the log jam of Capitalists and their politicians make it so?

    Most solutions seem so simple but then it comes across the desk of a bribed politician who kills the idea completely. It’s all about money in this country. Those who have inherited it, bribe those who make the rules.

  7. We are beginning to pay a price for our racism and failure to fund education. We have this international search for brainpower turned around. Student debt is beginning to negatively affect GDP, new housing starts, population growth etc. etc. etc. We should be paying and otherwise subsidizing students to go to school, especially those with interests and abilities related to STEM disciplines, but humanities at well. We can grow our own brainpower for the Silicon Valleys in our country, and they won’t need visas, though we should keep robust visa programs intact, as will be suggested later herein.

    On the negative side, what if we educate these PHDs and other such students with taxpayer dollars and some of them go to overseas Silicons due to our racism and Bronze Age (and now institutional) wage and wealth inequality. We will still need enlightened visa rules and regulations to ensure that foreign PhDs who have perhaps been educated at their country’s expense or at their own can immigrate to our country to fill the void.

    Pipedream? Can’t afford it etc. etc. etc. That’s funny. We had a trillion and a half dollars of our and our grandchildren’s tax money to hand over to the already filthy rich and corporate class courtesy of Trump and Ryan recently and (per CBO) a first ever trillion dollar current budget deficit coming up and stretching out as far as the eye can see, to be added to our current long terms deficit of some 23 trillion dollars, all at interest. This giveaway by Trump and Ryan gives a big bump to our already wage and wealth inequality crisis – and what did We the People get for our money. Debt. What did the filthy rich and corporate class get? Big time dividends and capital gains opportunities for their executives and shareholders.

    Our policyholders have decided to reward the rich with a giveaway of our and our grandchildren’s tax money with no discernible advantage accruing to the rest of us. None. Apparently the plan is to let foreign countries pay for PhDs and import them into this country for our Silicons while poor-mouthing education and other important initiatives in favor of tax cuts for those who don’t need it. I object. Strenuously.

  8. News today is also from Hong Kong and Beijing. Beijing, as you would expect from a totalitarian government much like the one of Trump, Pence and McConnell, told Hong Kong protesters that if they “play with fire they will perish by fire”. We’ll have to see the ultimate outcome but there are a couple of things that describe what it could be. One is telling people to behave consistent with what’s best for me compared to what’s best for them typically inspires anger, not fear. Secondly rational business leaders will start thinking about where to relocate to places that don’t have that risk of social failure.

    The result is the same here for the same reason. True it’s not instantaneous but like anthropogenic climate change it builds every year like the temperature in a pot of frogs on the stove.

    Every year here the bill for Republican’s great adventure goes higher. Propaganda to mislead us away from things important to us to things important only to Republicans fails as the consequences build. We are on the path to failure as a country.

    The only question is when’s it too late to fix? Have we passed it already? Will it be this year? Next? 2021? We’ll know of course for sure only when we have passed it.

  9. Gerald says that “We are beginning to pay a price for our racism and failure to fund education.” Yes, and that is part of the multifaceted GOP plan. The less educated and the more narrowly educated our citizenry, the brighter the future becomes for the Republican Party. As the already high esteem for and accessibility of a good education rises in China, America willfully cedes world leadership to Xi Jin Ping by abandoning its appeal to gifted people from abroad. We still have an edge because we are freer, but if Trump serves another term, will that remain the case? Then where will the gifted go? Shenzhen or Shanghai or Xian?

    If we stay on track, America will become the first nation in world history to knowingly and voluntarily give up its leadership role. There’s still a scintilla of hope, but if the educated cede the 2020 elections to the Trumpophiles, that hope disappears – probably permanently.

    But none of that seems to matter to Republicans. They are certain they will control whatever remains of this once great country, and that their quest for greater wealth and power will proceed unimpeded.

  10. I have experienced both sides of this problem.

    From the immigrants side, my step-son, who is Chinese, was worried about what would happen after he got his PhD. He saw shrinking opportunities here and took an option that existed at that time – he joined the Army Reserves. Imagine a young man going from home-made Chinese food to Army food; imagine a bookworm going through basic training. He came out blistered and ill, but he succeeded and was one of the few Chinese nationals in his unit to be granted citizenship. Part of this was his desire to stay in this country, but part was for increasing his economic opportunities. I also have an Indian nephew (by marriage last month) who came to America for education and opportunity. He is someone who was able to be established before Trump came to power.

    On the other end, we haven’t been able to figure out globalization of the labor market and the gig economy, especially displaced older workers. Displaced factory workers, miners, and the like are left to their own devices. But beyond that, even our “technical” workers in the IT industry are being tossed aside. Years ago, as an unemployed IT worker, I was offered training because I went to the suburban Chicago unemployment office – this was not offered through the Chicago office. I was trained and certified as a database administrator, since this was supposed to be needed skill. Nobody would hire me without “practical” experience. An internship is fine for a college grad, but not someone with a mortgage to pay. They weren’t offering those to “older” people in any case.

    Now, “downsized” again (outsourcing to India), the first question I am asked is what is my work authorization. They assume I am an Indian immigrant and want to be certain I have a Green Card, since H1B visas and the like are becoming more difficult. I have former colleagues in IT who ended up working at Home Depot and other similar positions because nobody wanted to hire a 50+ IT person (employers either ask your birthday or the year you graduated school).

    I doubt that we really have a “skills shortage”. Employers just don’t want to pay for the workers they want, or they only want someone who has done identical work. When I started IT, my first assignment involved some programming languages that I didn’t know. The company trained my co-worker and me in two weeks. We complete the project on time and to the customer’s satisfaction. No employer would do that today.

    I believe that most Trump supporters are racist. Some, however, are drawn to the “blame the other” rhetoric because they feel discarded. Some just feel discarded and don’t see previous politicians as caring in the least. (I suspect these last two categories are small, but real). We need to understand that this country thrives on immigration and at the same time learn how to deal with retraining/retaining workers displaced by the globalized labor market and, even more so, by automation.

  11. I guess Vigilantes now feel free to assault 13 year olds.

    A 13-year-old was seriously injured when a man at a Montana rodeo slammed him to the ground after the boy did not remove his hat during a playing of the national anthem, authorities said Tuesday.

    Curt James Brockway, 39, was arrested on suspicion of felony assault on a minor following the alleged attack at the rodeo at the Mineral County Fair on Saturday. The boy was originally taken to a nearby hospital, but his injuries were so serious that he had to be airlifted to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, according to a statement from Mineral County Sheriff Mike Boone.

    “He was definitely bleeding out of his ears; he was scared,” witness Taylor Hennick said.

    I saw this in a Facebook feed and checked it out. It is true.

  12. that man Curt needs to be in JAIL NOW attacking 13 year old boy what a bully and he had previous attacks too he should have been off the streets a long time ago. IF THE POLICE WON’T DO IT SOMEONE SHOULD. CHILDREN SUFFER FROM THESE KIND OF PEOPLE FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS

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