|Making America Great again?|
The decision by the Trump administration in February to set the stage for a massive immigration crackdown—expanding the powers of federal agents, calling for local law enforcement to get involved in the effort, and widening the definition of “removable alien”—has already taken an incredible human toll. Sara Beltran Hernandez, a mother of two who was reportedly the victim of domestic abuse in El Salvador, was removed from a Texas hospital bed—where Beltran Hernandez says she was being treated for a brain tumor—and taken to the Prairieland Detention Center (she was later released and is being allowed to live with family in New York while her asylum claim is processed). Last week, Roberto Beristain, a restaurant owner living in Indiana for 20 years who received permission from the Obama administration in 2012 to stay in the country as long as he periodically checked in with immigration officials, was deported to Mexico. The pages of countless newspapers across the country are filled with similar stories.
But the president’s anti-immigration policies also present a major risk to several U.S. economic sectors that rely on immigrant labor, a fact that Trump—as a businessman who routinely hires seasonal immigrant laborers at his hotels and golf courses and winery, and employed undocumented workers to build Trump Tower—ought to understand better than anybody. Nevertheless, 1,470 economists have decided to give the president a refresher on the importance of immigration in the form of a very public letter. Per CNN Money:
In a letter to President Trump and top Congressional leaders Wednesday, nearly 1,500 economists extolled the economic benefits immigrants bring to the U.S. and urged Congress to "modernize" the country's immigration system.
“[I]mmigration is one of America's significant competitive advantages in the global economy,” the letter said. “With the proper and necessary safeguards in place, immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers.”
Among the economic benefits that immigration brings are entrepreneurs who start businesses, young workers who replace retiring Baby Boomers and people with diverse skill sets to keep American companies competitive and innovative in high-growth fields like STEM, the letter stated. The letter was signed by economists from across the political spectrum, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served under President George H.W. Bush, and Austan Goolsbee, the former chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. The group also included six Nobel laureates. “Immigration is not just a good thing,“ said Eakin, who is now president of the right leaning American Action Forum think tank. “It’s a necessity.” Last month, a survey of 285 economists at America's major corporations by the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) found that a clear majority believed President Trump's restrictive stance on immigration is a mistake. These economists favored more “relaxed immigration policies” that they said would help boost the economy and noted that fixing the H-1B visa program should be the priority over deporting illegal immigrants.
Read more: More than 1,000 Economists Agree: This Trump Policy Will Be a Disaster | Vanity Fair