Thu | Sep 20, 2018

Letter of the Day | Trump, xenophobia the solution to our brain drain

Published:Thursday | February 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The recent actions of the new American president, Donald Trump, in limiting the access that some people may have in getting into America, and the recent vote by the British to leave the European Union, which was partly driven by the concerns that the British have with too many people coming into Britain, have caused much concern to countries like ours in the Caribbean. However, while many of us are cursing the apparent rise of xenophobia in the United States and Europe, it may not all be bad news.

Interestingly, Jamaica's minister of health was reported to have said, at a recent conference overseas, that something must be done about the brain drain that is negatively affecting the health services of many developing countries - including Jamaica.

Of course, the recent actions of the Trump administration in broad-brushing people from entire nations as serious security risks to his country is disturbing, even though Mr Trump continues to deny that this is what he is doing. However, whatever the reasons for his actions, it cannot be ruled out, knowing Mr Trump's unpredictability, that countries like Jamaica may be next on his list of those whose citizens will be barred. As far-fetched as this may seem, with Mr Trump, anything is possible.

With most of Europe, and now America, now starting to erect walls for foreigners coming into their countries, countries like Jamaica may actually benefit.

Every year, we say goodbye to many of our brightest who go to live in the United States, Great Britain, and other developed countries. The health sector is not the only one suffering. Many of our teachers, especially our science teachers, leave for "greener pastures", leaving many of our schools to suffer. The same is true of many of our other bright sparks, costing countries like us dearly.

There is no doubt that our economy could be growing much more rapidly, simply on account of the contribution that these very educated people could have given if they were here. Many of our rundown areas, for instance, were not areas of blight. they only became so because many of the educated residents have left. Imagine if they were still here!

Many of these very bright people who have left were educated at taxpayers' expense. It is not easy for countries like ours to find the funds to educate these people, only to have them leave to enrich countries that are already rich.

Of course, no one in his right mind would want to condone the type of discrimination that the increasing xenophobia and "Trumpism" seem to be encouraging. However, the clouds of xenophobia and Trump may indeed have a silver lining for countries like ours - we may get to keep our brightest. This, in turn, can only be good for us as we will get the expertise, skills, and know-how to directly benefit us.

Indeed, it wouldn't surprise me if some of our leaders were wishing for America under Trump, Britain with Brexit, the rest of Europe, and other advanced countries, to go all the way and impose a complete ban on our citizens from entering their countries. They may protest openly, but maybe, just maybe, they would be quietly happy.

Michael A. Dingwall