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Visas for Sale #372: Julian Lincoln Simon Papers

Page from the manuscript “Auctioning Immigration Visas: Doing Well While Doing Good”, July 22, 1985. Box 67, Julian Lincoln Simon papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The question of immigration in the United States is complex and politically fraught. The policy has for many years favored the reunification of families, protecting refugees, and promoting diversity. But is there a better way to allocate visas to immigrants? Julian Simon thought so.

Taking an economist’s view, he proposed allowing foreigners to bid for immigration visas. Those people most able to pay for a visa also have the most to contribute economically to the U.S. And what of the immigrants who could not afford to pay upfront? Simon argued that their wages could be withheld from future income to pay back the cost of a visa.

An auction of visas would contribute to an increase of government revenue. The auction system did have one drawback – it seemed to smack of human trafficking. Simon also pointed out that a strictly enforced illegal immigration policy would be essential to the success of a visa auction program.

To learn more, see the Julian Lincoln Simon papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.

For more information, visit the American Heritage Center site.