When Children of Immigrants Emigrate

Yesterday, before getting on a plane for Miami, we stopped in at Montevideo, Uruguay. We wanted to find out more about what was going on. Uruguay is a banking haven and used to welcome foreigners and ask few questions. Now, it insists on following roughly the same rules as every other country. You can still move to Uruguay. But you need to follow the rules…carefully.

“I guess that means you have fewer foreigners coming in,” we suggested to an immigration lawyer.

“Not at all. We’ve never had so many.”

“Where are they coming from?”

“Europe…and America.”


“They say they just want to be safe. They think Europe and America are going to go broke and have serious social problems. We don’t have those kind of problems in Uruguay. Our banks are solid. There is not a lot of debt. And we’re a long way from either Europe or America. People come here. They like our relaxed, safe lifestyle. They buy a farm in the country or an apartment on the ocean. They feel like they have some place to go if things go bad in their home countries.”

An article in the US press confirmed that the US is no longer a magnet for immigrants. Net illegal immigration into the US (netted out against those who go home) is now zero.

And now The New York Times reports that children of immigrants are going home:

In growing numbers, experts say, highly educated children of immigrants to the United States are uprooting themselves and moving to their ancestral countries. They are embracing homelands that their parents once spurned but that are now economic powers.

Enterprising Americans have always sought opportunities abroad. But this new wave underscores the evolving nature of global migration, and the challenges to American economic supremacy and competitiveness.

In interviews, many of these Americans said they did not know how long they would live abroad; some said it was possible that they would remain expatriates for many years, if not for the rest of their lives.

Their decisions to leave have, in many cases, troubled their immigrant parents. Yet most said they had been pushed by the dismal hiring climate in the United States or pulled by prospects abroad.

“Markets are opening; people are coming up with ideas every day; there’s so much opportunity to mold and create,” said Mr. Kapadia, now a researcher at Gateway House, a new foreign-policy research organization in Mumbai. “People here are running much faster than the people in Washington.”

For generations, the world’s less-developed countries have suffered so-called brain drain – the flight of many of their best and brightest to the West. That has not stopped, but now a reverse flow has begun, particularly to countries like China and India and, to a lesser extent, Brazil and Russia.

Some scholars and business leaders contend that this emigration does not necessarily bode ill for the United States. They say young entrepreneurs and highly educated professionals sow American knowledge and skills abroad. At the same time, these workers acquire experience overseas and build networks that they can carry back to the United States or elsewhere – a pattern known as “brain circulation.”

Officials in India said they had seen a sharp increase in the arrival of people of Indian descent in recent years – including at least 100,000 in 2010 alone, said Alwyn Didar Singh, a former senior official at the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs.

Many of these Americans have been able to leverage family networks, language skills and cultural knowledge gleaned from growing up in immigrant households. For many of these émigrés, the decision to relocate has confounded – and even angered – their immigrant parents.

When Jason Y. Lee, who was born in Taiwan and raised in the United States, told his parents during college that he wanted to visit Hong Kong, his father refused to pay for the plane ticket. “His mind-set was, ‘I worked so hard to bring you to America and now you want to go back to China?’ ” recalled Mr. Lee, 29.

Since then, Mr. Lee has started an import-export business between the United States and China; studied in Shanghai; worked for investment banks in New York and Singapore; and created an international job-search Web site in India. He works for an investment firm in Singapore. His father’s opposition has softened.


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

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Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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This trend will accelerate as the US declines into economic depression. When the US dollar collapses, then millions of people, (mostly Hispanic, Asian)will dump the dying dollar and abandon America, and I don’t blame them as I would do the same thing. Immigration into other bankrupt western nations will also decline with immigrants and their children packing up and leaving. The trend will also affect Australia and Canada not long afterwards, considering these two nations are prohibitivly expensive to live in they’ll become uneconomically viable after Europe and America collapse.

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