Further Proof That Immigrants Benefit the Economy

As an immigration attorney with a background in economics, finance, and tax law, I tend to look at the immigration issues in economic terms. While many people are under the impression that immigration is a drag on the U.S. economy and that immigrants take jobs from Americans, this is simply not true. Immigrants don’t take jobs from Americans, they create jobs for Americans. It is not a coincidence that the largest economy in the world is the country that was founded and grown by immigrants. Immigration drives economic growth.

This is not just the opinion of an Immigration attorney. It is the opinion of a large, diverse group of economists. The organization, New American Economy, issued a press release On April 12th, announcing that almost 1500 economists sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional Leadership affirming that immigration is good for the U.S. economy. Those signing included Six Nobel Laureates and Economists from the Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, GW Bush, and the Obama administrations.

The letter these economists signed is reproduced below:

“An Open Letter from 1,470 Economists on Immigration

Dear Mr. President, Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Minority Leader Pelosi:

 The undersigned economists represent a broad swath of political and economic views. Among us are Republicans and Democrats alike. Some of us favor free markets while others have championed for a larger role for government in the economy. But on some issues, there is near universal agreement. One such issue concerns the broad economic benefit that immigrants to this country bring.

 As Congress and the Administration prepare to revisit our immigration laws, we write to express our broad consensus that immigration is one of America’s significant competitive advantages in the global economy. With the proper and necessary safeguards in place, immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers.

 We view the benefits of immigration as myriad:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Immigration undoubtedly has economic costs as well, particularly for Americans in certain industries and Americans with lower levels of educational attainment. 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.

We urge Congress to modernize our immigration system in a way that maximizes the opportunity immigration can bring, and reaffirms continuing the rich history of welcoming immigrants to the United States.”

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum emphasizes: “this letter is a reminder that support for sound economic policy bridges partisan divides, and that well-crafted immigration policy can support the goals of more rapid productivity growth, economic growth, and middle-class prosperity.” Mr. Holtz-Eakin is the Former Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Council of Economic Advisers for President George H.S. Bush

“Immigration is a shot in the arm for the U.S. economy,” said John Feinblatt, Chairman of New American Economy. “The data shows it, and nearly 1,500 economists know it – immigration means more talent, more jobs, and broad economic benefits for American workers and companies alike.”

Statistics to back up these opinions are provided on newamericaneconomy.org. You can find the economic data by state, by metropolitan area, and by Congressional District. For the state of Florida, they provide the following statistics:

  1. Immigrants make up 20% of Florida’s population but account for 33% of all entrepreneurs
  2. Immigrants in Florida paid $ 23.4 billion in taxes in 2014, leaving them $ 73.1 billion in spending power to drive the economy
  3. 506,778 people in Florida work at companies owned by immigrants
  4. In 2014, undocumented immigrants in Florida earned $ 11.2 billion and paid taxes of $1.3 billion leaving them $ 9.9 billion in total spending power.

In Florida, the impact of immigrants is especially important given that we have a higher proportion of elderly than anywhere else in the U.S. In Florida, 48% of the native-born population is working aged compared the 68% of the foreign-born population. The younger workers help pay for the social security and other entitlements of the older population.

Clearly our economy is stronger because of immigrants, both documented and undocumented. If you wish to express your opinion as was done by the 1470 Economists, you may do so here.

Linda M Kaplan
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