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“Politics of Immigration Always Seem to Get in the Way of Common Sense”

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Marcela García Boston Globe Column Makes Compelling Case for Immigrants and Immigration

Washington, DC – A must-read column from Marcela García in the Boston Globe summarizes the many reasons why getting our economy right means getting immigration policy right. 

From filling worker shortages and tackling inflation concerns in the short term to longer-term needs that address an aging population and workforce, it’s essential that we create a modern immigration policy that both welcomes new immigrants and legalizes undocumented workers. However, as we noted last week and as García highlights, the politics of immigration and Republicans’ embrace of nativism stands in the way.

Read the full Marcela García column in the Boston Globe, “One clear answer to US labor shortages? Let more immigrants in,” and find key excerpts below:

“The United States has been admitting fewer immigrants in recent years due to policy restrictions put in place because of the pandemic. But the slowdown began earlier, with the relentless war on immigration set in motion by the Trump administration.

Giovanni Peri, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis, whose work focuses on the intersection of labor economics and immigration, recently calculated that the US economy is missing 2 million working-age immigrants. ‘The net inflow of immigrants into the United States has essentially halted for almost 2 years,’ he wrote last month. Peri told me he started to see the downward trend since before the pandemic, ‘the effect of some [immigration policy] restrictions. And then, in the beginning of 2020, you start seeing a pandemic travel ban. For two years COVID-19 has been a huge cause of this.’

…According to economists, the labor shortages won’t get better any time soon. It’s why immigrants should be seen as part of the solution to alleviate the labor shortage and inflation. Consider one example of the immigration shortfall dynamic at play locally.

Last May, Biden issued a new designation for Temporary Protected Status to eligible Haitians already in the United States. The program protects its beneficiaries from deportation and allows them to work for a period of 18 months. But, according to local Haitian leaders, there has been a significant processing delay in applications, and thousands haven’t received their work permits. 

‘This is a huge issue,” said Geralde Gabeau, executive director of the Immigrant Family Services Institute in Mattapan. ‘You have these people ready and willing to work, but they can’t.’ While the scale is small — Gabeau said her office has helped file over 2,000 TPS applications for local Haitians and none have received their work permit — fast-tracking these cases would still go a long way.

But the politics of immigration always seem to get in the way of common sense. ‘Immigration should be talked about first in economic and demographic terms because it’s a hugely important engine of growth,’ Peri said. He’s right. Granted, immigration is not a switch that can be turned on and off with the flick of a finger. But if we don’t prioritize letting more immigrants in, economic recovery and growth will be harder.”

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice: 

America needs a modern immigration policy that welcomes new immigrants and legalizes the immigrants who already live, work and raise families here. Unfortunately, as Marcela García notes, ‘politics always gets in the way of common sense’ and the best interests of our country and our economy. Immigrants are essential workers and essential to our economy and social fabric. The GOP is hell-bent on a nation without immigrants, regardless of the damage done. For their part, Democrats’ inability or unwillingness to overcome Republicans’ rabid xenophobia stands in the way of needed reform and progress. Americans pay a price for GOP nativism. Republican opposition to immigration puts a restrictor plate on the U.S. economy, slowing growth and limiting opportunity for all Americans. At the end of the day, we should all be celebrating immigrants and recognize we must act to make sure there is never an actual Day Without Immigrants in America.