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The Data is Clear: Immigration is Essential to U.S. Economic Prosperity

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Washington, DC – More voices are highlighting that pro-immigrant policies and legal pathways for immigrants will help drive America’s economic growth, as we noted last week.

In The Washington Post, columnist Catherine Rampell cites immigration as the driving force behind surprising job growth. She explains: 

“In May, once again, the U.S. economy trounced Wall Street forecasts. The nation’s employers added 339,000 jobs, much higher than predicted. This marks 13 out of the past 14 months that the U.S. job market has beaten expectations.

… Early in the pandemic, immigration plummeted. Borders closed, and the Trump administration used the public health emergency as an excuse to make unusually draconian changes to legal immigration that Team MAGA had long been yearning for. Even well into the Biden era, persistent immigration agency dysfunction made it hard for legal immigrants already here to work.

… Today, trends in legal immigration have largely normalized, and the numbers of immigrant workers in the United States have more than recovered. You can see this in the labor market data: Employment levels for native-born Americans are just a touch higher than in February 2020, when the pandemic recession began (up on net by 0.3 percent); among foreign-born workers, employment has shot up by 9.3 percent.

… In the meantime, though, let’s celebrate the underdogs helping supercharge our economy to date.”

Writing for The New Yorker, Idrees Kahloon highlights that nativism and anti-immigrant forces are acting in direct opposition to the economic consensus:

“The fact remains that mass migration and nativist backlash have stalked one another for more than a century. However enthusiastic the American dogma may be about immigrants past, rising migration levels invariably trigger the fear that immigrants present and future may be something different—a drag on the welfare state, a threat to native laborers, a pox on the culture.

… although immigrants tend to earn less than native-born workers and are therefore a bit more costly to governments, their children exhibit unusually high levels of upward mobility and ‘are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the population.’ For a country with an aging labor force, like the U.S., immigration can act like Botox for the welfare state, temporarily making the math of paying for promised benefits, like Social Security and Medicare, less daunting.”

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“Expanding legal immigration channels and integrating immigrant workers into our economy have long been a massive comparative advantage of the U.S. economy. Immigrants and immigration are an asset to our economy and key to our future prosperity. As we see more reminders that our economy’s surprising resilience is in large part due to immigrant workers in the labor force, Republicans’ nativism seems intent to dampen our economic growth and potential. There are no brainer win-win solutions here, if the GOP’s nativism would just get out of the way.  

You only need to look at the destructive effects Ron DeSantis’ immigration legislation has already had on Florida for a reminder about the folly of the GOP’s anti-immigrant direction.”