Economists Send Open Letter to President Trump Defending Immigration

Image courtesy of Michael Vadon

1,470 economists sent an open letter to President Trump and the leaders of Congress on April 12 on the economic impact of immigration. The economists came from all parts of the political spectrum and included former advisers to previous Republican presidents. They also came from many different schools of thought, but, they wrote “on some issues there is near universal agreement. One such issue concerns the broad economic benefit that immigrants to this country bring.”

The signatories included Nobel Prize winners Vernon Smith, Oliver Hart, Alvin Roth, Angus Deaton, Lars Peter Hansen, Roger Meyerson as well as prominent economists from the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations. A complete list of the signatories can be found here.

The economists said that “immigration is one of America’s significant competitive advantages in the global economy.” Contrary to the political rhetoric of the last year, they said that “immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers.” Among other benefits, they said that immigrant workers are able to supplement a workforce that is rapidly aging. Immigrants, they said, “…offset the large-scale retirement of baby boomers.”

The open letter also says that many immigrants are “entrepreneurs who start new businesses that hire American workers.” Immigrant entrepreneurs and tech workers work in fields where they “create life-improving products and drive economic growth.” They are crucial to the innovation economy.

The economists concluded their letter by urging 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. Benjamin Powell, one of the signatories, explained that regardless “of ideological leaning, economists largely agree that immigration, like international trade in goods and services, makes the native-born population wealthier.”

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