Crossing Borders: From Myth to Sound Immigration Policy

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On September 28, 2010, the Hamilton Project hosted an event to discuss the economic impact of immigrants. The event began with a panel discussion: “The Economic Evidence on Immigration.” According to the moderator, in the immigration debate, there is an absence of facts. The panel discussed the facts and concurrently dispelled some common immigration myths like immigrants lower the living standard of natives.

  • Professor Peri found that immigrants have a positive impact on US-born workers– they lower the prices of goods and services, and increase wages. Furthermore, there is no crowd-out effect because immigrants and natives generally compete for different types of jobs.
  • James Smith found that immigrants are not a drain on the federal government budget– the taxes they pay are greater than the cost of the services they use.
  • Darrell West stated that during periods of recession, we need high-skilled foreign workers because they promote economic activity through innovation and new technology. Unfortunately, the number of employment based visas is low.

The second panel focused on: “Immigration Policy: Impacts on Workers, Employers and America’s Future.”

  • Steve Hyman stated that there is no crowding-out effect among students– U.S. students generally choose the financial sector, while foreign students tend to focus on the sciences. U.S. research labs would be empty without foreign students. Labs have the secondary effect of creating jobs.
  • Lydia Tamez stressed the need for foreign workers and students because U.S. workers and students are not filling certain fields.
  • John Wilhelm stated that continued immigration is necessary– especially with the shrinking native population. Otherwise, businesses and industries like his own (hospitality) could not open their doors.

The event’s guest speaker was Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, White House. Ms. Barnes stated that our immigration system is broken, but President Obama is committed to reform. He plans to work with our members of Congress to develop comprehensive immigration reform (CIR).

The event ended with a speech by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson via video. Gov. Richardson, a border state governor, is frustrated that people cannot put politics aside and pass a immigration reform legislation. He believes that CIR should be a national priority.

LIRS is committed to pass immigration reform legislation. Please visit the Stand for Welcome webpage and act now:https://www.lirs.org/site/c.nhLPJ0PMKuG/b.5542979/k.846E/Stand_for_Welcome_Campaign.htm

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