It’s Going to Get Complicated


Each month, Long Island Wins Executive Director Maryann Sinclair Slutsky publishes a column in the Anton Community Newspapers. Here’s the May 2013 column:

There are some events in the news that are easy to track and follow what’s going on, for example, the NBA playoffs, or The Voice.

And then there are the debates in Washington. By the time the legislative maneuvering is underway and the rhetoric is streaming from both sides, it can be hard to figure out what’s happening, why it’s happening, who benefits from what’s happening, and whether what’s happening will be of any use.

But here’s one thing that should be clear to all of us: immigration reform will save us all money. Let me repeat that: immigration reform will save us all money.

It sounds like that might be a controversial point, but it’s actually pretty simple: by bringing immigrants out of the shadows and letting them earn a path to citizenship, we make sure they’re contributing fully to our local and national economy.

And the people who have looked at this agree.

While immigration reform is generally considered a “Democratic” issue these days – in general, Democrats are pushing hardest for it – agreement on this issue crosses party lines.

The unabashedly right-wing Heritage Foundation wrote in 2006, “The argument that immigrants harm the American economy should be dismissed out of hand. Whether low-skilled or high-skilled, immigrants boost national output, enhance specialization, and provide a net economic benefit.”

Recent Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a conservative’s conservative, says, “The Congressional Budget Office has found that fixing our broken immigration system could help our economy grow. A proper accounting of immigration reform should take into account these dynamic effects.”

And the noted conservative economist Alex Nowrasteh says, “Allowing more legal immigration, and legalizing those here, will increase the number of workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S., necessarily growing the size of the economy…those effects boost GDP, ergo tax revenue.”

In case you missed it, “boost GDP, ergo tax revenue” is economist-speak for, “the economy gets stronger, which means more jobs and more people paying taxes, which means you pay less taxes.”

Immigrants come to Long Island from all over the world to pursue the American Dream. They work hard, they pay taxes, and start businesses. Immigrants represent 16 percent of the Long Island population and 17 percent of its economic output.

Immigrants already add ten billion dollars a year – that’s billion with a “b” – to Long Island’s economy.

Just imagine what kind of economic contributions we’d see if we stopped forcing people into the shadows, and brought them into the system.

So, as the noise level in Washington goes up, just remind yourself: immigration reform will save us all money.

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