How To Screen Immigrants More Fairly

Gary S. Becker's column "Prop 187 is fine--now rewrite federal law, too" (Economic Viewpoint, Jan. 9) repeats his previous suggestion to auction off immigration slots to the highest bidders. He argues that this would give priority to skilled applicants, since they would bid the most.

This idea is loaded with fundamental flaws. Skilled applicants from what kinds of countries? Those living in unstable economies with funny-money currencies would never be able to raise enough solid U.S. dollars to participate in the auction. Skilled applicants from affluent societies are usually doing all right in their own countries.

A more efficient mechanism would be to increase the responsibility of sponsors by establishing an "immigration sponsorship fee," graduated according to the sponsor's income. Sponsors would then prefer to stick their necks out for those most likely to succeed. Being registered by the U.S. Justice Dept. as a legitimate sponsor would also be a deterrent to any abuse of the system.

H.C. Mueller

Naila, Germany