Better in America

TWO years ago, Jon Hegeman, a farmer from Alabama, was struggling to expand his business. He could offer unglamorous but steady work. Potting plants and shifting them to a greenhouse paid $10.59 an hour. He couldn’t find workers; he even tried recruiting from a youth-detention programme.

Mr Hegeman stumbled on a solution when he met Sarah Williamson, of Protect the People (PTP), a charity for people affected by humanitarian disasters. With the International Organisation for Migration, PTP was trying a novel way of helping Haiti after its devastating earthquake in 2010: by taking Haitians to work temporarily in America. The idea appealed to Mr Hegeman, born to missionary parents on the same island (but in the Dominican Republic). With the agencies’ help, eight workers arrived in September 2015.

A new study by Michael Clemens and Hannah Postel of the Centre for Global Development compares those Haitians who secured visas through the project with unsuccessful applicants left behind. The benefits were mind-boggling: the temporary migrants earned a monthly income 1,400% higher than those back in…Continue reading