In FON we are having some serious problems attracting people to come from the United States to work in Spain. The same is happening in reverse as well, when we want to bring Europeans to the United States to work. The situation of closed borders is absurd, considering that even if the United States and Europe were to mutually open their borders, there would be no massive migration in either direction.

I think that it is time that the US and the EU make an agreement to allow for people to move freely from one continent to the other. Balanced immigration enriches countries that embrace it. Europe created the European Union, among other things, to facilitate the free movement of its citizens throughout the labor markets. The US created NAFTA so that Mexicans would have more jobs in assembly plants and would stay in Mexico.

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greggles on September 8, 2006  · 

If the problem is truly just in “atracting” US workers to Spain then let me know. I’m very attracted to working in Spain!

Immigration is a tough issue – as a person who has worked in several countries and as someone with plans to do more of that in the future, I’m very interested in international immigration policy. My understanding is that Canada has recently made it easier for skilled workers to enter the country legally and my own investigations into Argentine visas make me believe that Argentina is embracing immigration of skilled and/or wealthy individuals, though the Argentine bureaucracy is famously difficult 🙂

Also, as a followup on my comment last Friday, here is a breakdown of FON density by country. Way to go Singapore and Holland!


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Dan on September 8, 2006  · 

Your article covers professionals. It’s an exclusive gang. You won’t easily convince people who know their stuff well, to relocate. It’s normal. In what labour force is concerned, things go around a lot differently. Do not mistake the two lots of people. 😉

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Daniel Griffin on September 8, 2006  · 

I was wondering if you could provide any more background supporting your arguments about NAFTA, thanks.

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Martin Varsavsky on September 10, 2006  · 


Our problem when we hire Americans is that it takes us a year or two to get them their working papers. Now the good news is that Spaniards let Americans get into this country without asking questions so, while technically illegal in practical terms, Americans don´t get into trouble. We hire them in America, pay them in America, but they are here. But the Americans end up collecting their taxes, not the Spaniards. And when we want to bring Europeans into USA the problem is worse cause the Americans check more at the border. Spain gets more tourist per year than people who live here so it has a more friendly border police.

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Martin Varsavsky on September 10, 2006  · 


The main difference between the EU and NAFTA is that in the EU goods and people move freely while with NAFTA only goods do.


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PHil on September 17, 2006  · 

I absolutely agree. I know several qualified American IT and other highly-educated Americans who work under-the-table in Spain as English teachers. All of them would prefer to work in their chosen fields, but unfortunately without papers that is very difficult.

As I am familiar with the American expat forums, I can testify that many educated and skilled people are posting frequently, trying to find out how to move to Europe (especially Spain).

I also know many qualified Europeans who would like to work in the States.

I am sure that skilled professionals from both sides of the Atlantic desire positions in another country. The problem is that educated people do have a lot to lose (especially Americans with huge college debts).

At the moment a lot of immigration consists of those with nothing to lose, but if legal barriers were overcome and trained professionals (who may already have comfortable jobs) could feel condifent in their ability to secure working & residence papers, then you would see a lot of cross-border movement of brain power–and I think that would be good for everyone.

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