There is a great discussion going on over at the Beckner – Posner Blog (the dueling University of Chicago Professors) about ways to solve the illegal immigration problem including one of the best ideas I’ve never thought of: charge for admittance.
Given these realities of free immigration, the best alternative to the present quota system is an ancient way of allocating a scarce and popular good; namely, by charging a price that clears the market. That is why I believe countries should sell the right to immigrate, especially the United States that has so many persons waiting to immigrate. To illustrate how a price system would work, suppose the United States charges $50,000 for the right to immigrate, and agrees to accept all applicants willing to pay that price, subject to a few important qualifications. These qualifications would require that those accepted not have any serious diseases, or terrorist backgrounds, or criminal records.