Media Mention

Ilya Somin: How Migration Restrictions Undermine Meritocracy

July 8, 2020

Note: this piece was originally published in Reason, and was written by Checks & Balances member Ilya Somin. 

The federal government’s recent decision to bar foreign students from remaining in the United States if they are enrolled at universities scheduled to have online-only classes has drawn widespread criticism. Co-blogger Irina Manta summarizes some of the injustices inherent in this policy here. I would add that, even if the students in question can continue to “attend” online classes from abroad, they are likely to be denied access to other important educational resources such as library books and other research materials, laboratory equipment, and so on. In addition, it can be extremely difficult to take an online class if you are living in a time-zone many hours away.

It is deeply unjust that some students are effectively cut off from educational opportunities they have earned and paid for merely because of morally arbitrary circumstances of birth. The difference between “foreign” and “domestic” students usually comes down to citizenship status, which in turn is largely dictated by who your parents are or where you were born. Allocating educational opportunities on such a basis is morally arbitrary, and certainly contrary to the meritocratic principles on which university admissions are supposed to be based.

The new ICE policy is just the tip of a much larger iceberg of ways in which migration restrictions undermine meritocracy. Many of them are actually much more severe.

Continue reading at Reason.