does an annual survey of called Expat Insider
. The word expat
suggests some freedom of choice in terms of where to live. Expats don't think of themselves as immigrants, emigrants, or refugees. Rather they tend to be highly mobile, highly educated, and high income/value generators wherever they live. Because of that they basically have the ability to exercise some choice and pick the country they want to live in because many countries are willing to adopt them.
As far as my lens goes, this is it.
As late as 2014, the USA ranked 5th in the world in the expat survey. It was considered the land of opportunity. Yet since 2016, it has dropped precipitously and is now near the bottom ranking 47th out of 68 or so. The UK is now in the bottom 10 for similar reasons (BREXIT).
The loss of so-called political stability accounts for most of this ranking loss. Total ranking loss for the US would have been worse insofar the survey hadn't added a new category of internet connectivity, where the US is ranked #10.
Again, we're talking the opinions of mobile and educated immigrants/visa-holders that are generally making above or much above median salaries and who have the choice of working in several different countries. So not desperate people at the border nor immigrants with a one-shot chance to turn their student visa into a green card to escape where they're living or work a few years in a foreign country to send money back to establish a nest egg. Expats are simply leaving, staying away, and telling their colleagues about it when they no longer feel welcome. It makes sense that they would be proactive about their choices. Metaphorically, if politicians are pouring gasoline on their adopted home, they are not the ones to wait around to confirm an actual fire as far as their risk analysis goes. I have no desire to be a case study or be a newspaper feature article of someone whose innate optimism was run over by the system.
Also, I think the damage extends beyond people simply staying away. If we look at it in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, what the WH administration is doing is compromising the bottom of the Maslow hierarchy of needs pyramid hitting non-citizens' sense of safety and belonging/desire to be part of this country. I can't help but think that this might adversely affect the higher Maslow levels like esteem and self-actualization, that is, creative work and meaningful contributions [to the economy/country/world]. That has certainly been the case for me. Since 2016 I have spent much more time than I would otherwise have looking at real estate in other countries; how to rearrange my financial matters to make it easier to leave in case it became important; and generally selling off my stuff and getting ready to move just in case.
I think the conflation between legal and illegal immigrants is a real problem in this debate. Extend this to expats and also to refuges and the confusion is complete. Scapegoating is a big part of populism. Racism was brought up above, but I don't think that most people being accused of racism actually feel racist. They feel no personal animosity towards individuals from other countries or with another skin color (The typical cringe worthy "I have friends who are black" come to mind as an expression of good-will, albeit embarrassingly oblivious) but what goes unseen (like the broken window fallacy) is the consequences of supporting policies that are structurally
racist, such as the travel ban, the detention centers, the calls for wall building, the delay of processing. To someone abstracting the personal consequences from the political rhetoric, there's little difference. Therein lies the calls for "Flight93"-style votes, especially from those with a European background. We've seen or at least been severely indoctrinated in terms of what such structural policies can lead to and thus take it far more seriously than the American voter who has a completely different image of what WWII was about---"the good guys coming to the rescue" (the general US self-image of US foreign policy in the 20th century) not a battle against nationalism + populism turned fascism so that it never happens again which is how Eurasia sees it. It's just that many Europeans have a very aggressive immune system when it comes to such things, while most Americans do not. It's conceivable that Americans have to learn this lesson for themselves. Fair enough. It's not up to the world to tell a country what to do (at least not since the treaties of Westphalia), but at least some individuals have the option to opt out of participating.
I think this is why it has come to the point where it is now and why expats disfavor the US now.
Note: There's also the economic dimension between the tension between capital and labor which add further complications and expresses itself in the re-emergence of socialism on the left and nationalism on the right or some combination of the two that goes perpendicular to the typical left--right axis. I'm not going to expound on that here since it would further complicate the situation and possibly cause this thread to explode. Regardless, I'm aware of it.