More Reports on the Essential Value of Immigrants to Our Economy
Washington, DC – Republicans’ nativism and relentless focus on keeping out and kicking out immigrants and refugees is inflicting consequences on the U.S. economy and dampening our economic potential and response to inflation and rising prices. Their nativist positions, opposition to legal immigration, addressing backlogs, and opposition to legal status for immigrants living and working here have had negative impacts on almost every sector of the economy.
A range of voices in recent days have highlighted the economic costs, consequences, and missed opportunities caused by our failure to enact – over strenuous, decades long Republicans opposition – needed immigration reforms.
- The Idaho Statesman reports on the findings of a center-right coalition, the Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus, that says immigration reform could help bring down the prices of produce: “‘The labor shortage that I’m talking about in the agriculture sector is creating drops in productivity and spiking food prices,’ said Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative, a nonprofit that supports Latinos and an Alliance for a New Immigration Consensus member. ‘Record-high food prices and workforce shortages prove the need for a stronger and more reliable workforce that can deliver certainty and stability for American businesses.’ […] ‘The pandemic highlighted America’s need for an updated agricultural immigration system,” Joel Anderson, executive director of the Snake River Farmers Association said. ‘We need to ensure that America has food independence to protect against spiraling consumer prices.’”
- In response to the passage of legislation to support microchip manufacturing in the U.S., Politico reported on how immigration reform is necessary for an “industrial renaissance”:“[A]s Biden signs into law more than $52 billion in ‘incentives’ designed to lure chipmakers to the U.S., an unusual alliance of industry lobbyists, hard-core China hawks and science advocates says the president’s dream lacks a key ingredient — a small yet critical core of high-skilled workers. It’s a politically troubling irony: To achieve the long-sought goal of returning high-end manufacturing to the United States, the country must, paradoxically, attract more foreign workers…. From electrical engineering to computer science, the U.S. currently does not produce enough doctorates and master’s degrees in the science, technology, engineering and math fields who can go on to work in U.S.-based microchip plants. Decades of declining investments in STEM education means the U.S. now produces fewer native-born recipients of advanced STEM degrees than most of its international rivals. Foreign nationals, including many educated in the U.S., have traditionally filled that gap. But a bewildering and anachronistic immigration system, historic backlogs in visa processing and rising anti-immigrant sentiment have combined to choke off the flow of foreign STEM talent precisely when a fresh surge is needed.”
- The Economist published an article on how the “gummed up” immigration system is causing lasting damage to the American economy, making the fight against inflation and supply chain challenges harder: “The hurdles foreigners face trying to live in (or move to) America have increased. Some 410,000 people are waiting for interviews with the State Department to get green cards, mostly through immediate relatives. They qualify; it is just a processing delay. In 2019, before the pandemic closed government offices, just 61,000 people were waiting for an interview. Since July last year the backlog has shrunk from 532,000. But only around 30,000 interviews are being scheduled a month, fewer than before the pandemic. The only reason the backlog is not growing seems to be that fewer people are being asked to an interview.”
- Reason Magazine reported on a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) report showing that immigrants are disproportionately responsible for starting high-value companies: “According to the NFAP, a nonprofit that researches trade and immigration, immigrants have started 319 of 582, or 55 percent, of America’s privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more. Over two-thirds of the 582 companies ‘were founded or cofounded by immigrants or the children of immigrants,’ notes the NFAP. For comparison, approximately 14 percent of America’s population is foreign-born. Together, the immigrant-founded companies are valued at $1.2 trillion and employ 859 people on average. […] These findings are notable, the NFAP points out, since ‘there is generally no reliable way under U.S. immigration law for foreign nationals to start a business and remain in the country after founding a company.’ A large share of the immigrant startup founders came to the country as refugees, on family-sponsored green cards, or through employment-based pathways for other companies.”
- A report in Politico Magazine highlights the impact of labor shortages on nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other forms of elder care: “For decades, elder care in the U.S. has been bolstered by an immigrant workforce. As a new immigrant from Liberia, Wolapaye found his first job in America at Goodwin Living 11 years ago. Immigrants occupy nearly 70 percent of jobs at the Alexandria, Va., facility, and are 40 percent of home health aides. But today, international migration to the U.S. is at record-lows. And with native-born Americans apparently reluctant to take elder care jobs, economists like Watson are raising alarm bells: Who will care for America’s elderly? […] It’s a particularly important question as the crisis we’re in now is nothing compared to what’s coming: The percentage of people over the age of 85 — the group that most needs care — is predicted to double to 14 million by 2040, in part because Americans are living longer. In 2050, 84 million elderly people will live in America. Virginia alone is projected to be short 23,000 nurses in the next decade. “
According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:
“We are all paying a price for GOP nativism and opposition to all forms of legal immigration. Republicans seek to stigmatize and demonize immigrants in the political realm, yet their ‘success’ is costing every American family’s bottom line. Decades of opposition to reform, expansion and modernization in our immigration system puts us behind the eightball during this time of international competition, supply chain disruptions, super tight labor markets and high inflation.
Immigrants have proven themselves to be essential parts of the prosperity of our country and economy. They are key members of almost every sector or our economy, from agriculture and healthcare to the tech industry and other STEM industries. They found companies that employ other Americans and help drive innovation. The failures of our current immigration system mean that not only are these essential workers not provided the opportunities they seek, but also every other American family and community pays the price.
The Republican Party cannot simultaneously be the party of growth and economic opportunity while embracing nativism and white nationalism as their central governing philosophy and election strategy. The short- and long-term consequences of Republican lawmakers’ nativism jeopardizes the prospects for Americans in a nation that is enriched and fortified by each new generation of immigrants, refugees and those who have sought and received asylum on our shores.”