Economists Urge Trump to Modernize Immigration System

Since taking office, President Trump has made numerous efforts to reform the U.S. immigration system. He has issued two travel bans, both of which were blocked in federal court, and he has remained true to his campaign promise of building a wall along the southern border. His restrictive policies continue to make headlines and have now drawn the attention of nearly 1,500 of this country’s top economists.

In April, a letter addressed to the President, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan and Minority Leader Pelosi urged the nation’s highest ranking officials to rethink immigration policy in the U.S. “Immigration is one of America’s significant competitive advantages in the global economy,” the letter said, and “with proper and necessary safeguards in place, immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers.” The individuals who signed this letter represented a broad array of political and economic views. It was signed by Republicans and Democrats alike. Some favor free markets while others champion for a larger governmental role in the economy. One thing they all agree on, however, is the broad economic benefits that immigrants bring to this country. According to the letter:

  • Immigration brings entrepreneurs who start new businesses that hire American workers;
  • Immigration brings young workers who help offset the large-scale retirement of baby boomers;
  • Immigration brings diverse skill sets that keep our workforce flexible, help companies grow, and increase the productivity of American workers; and
  • Immigrants are far more likely to work in innovative, job-creating fields such as science, technology, engineering and math that create life-improving products and drive economic growth.

So what do they hope to accomplish? The goal is to urge Congress and the President to modernize our immigration system in a way that maximizes the opportunity immigration can bring. “Immigration undoubtedly has economic costs,” the letter said, but “the benefits that immigration brings to society far outweigh their costs, and smart immigration policy could better maximize the benefits of immigration while reducing the costs.” One notable signatory is Douglas-Holtz Eakin. Mr. Holtz-Eakin served under former President George H.W. Bush, and is now the president of American Action Forum think tank. According to Eakin, “Markets reward skills that have value and this day and age, running a machine tool is a skilled trade. You should have a visa system that recognizes market shortages and allows those skills to enter the United States.”

These economists are trying to push the U.S. in the direction of immigration policy focused on economic needs and family reunification. They believe the President’s restrictive stance is a mistake, and they favor relaxed immigration policies that would help continue the nation’s rich history of welcoming immigrants to the United States.   

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