Recent media reports indicate that some the leading suspects in the recently attempted terror attacks against the U.K. were doctors working for the National Health Service. Although some of the 9/11 plotters had significant formal education (leader Mohamed Atta had studied architecture) all had failed in attempts to enter high-status professions. It’s easy to speculate that their resentment over this helped feed their desire to commit acts of terror.
But the alleged U.K. plotters were DOCTORS with JOBS. Best as I understand, any doctor who can get a job offer in the U.S. can come. Although our immigration bureaucracy does everything it can to drive them away, our laws still do a pretty good job welcoming the well-educated. Skilled Canadians and Mexicans can generally just show up at the border with a job offer letter and get a work visa. Could plotters like those in the U.K. be lurking in or midst?
Two possibilities. First, one can say “Everyone is a threat! This shows we need to treat everyone with an TN (NAFTA) or H-1B visa as a potential terrorist. Shields up!”
Second, one can observe that NHS pays the developed world’s lowest salaries to doctors. A good doctor seeking a job and willing to leave home will almost certainly go to the U.S., Switzerland, Germany, or even Canada. In all of these places, doctor’s incomes place them at or near the top of already wealthy societies. At least from a financial standpoint, a non-British doctor who goes to work for National Health already marked him- or herself as a failure. Obviously, anything is possible but it seems to me that fundamental differences in our medical systems make it very unlikely that the U.S. should start looking at foreign doctors, lawyers, and engineers and the like with renewed suspicion.