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Immigrants help the U.S. It’s time to secure our borders and boost legal immigration

Peter Crabb
Peter Crabb

It’s back to work we go — at what is now a very old issue.

Many federal workers are back to their jobs because the president and Congress made a short-term deal to end the partial government shutdown. However, the debate is not over. Negotiations on funding a wall on the border with Mexico will continue.

The president has framed this as a security issue. But at the center of this debate is the age-old question of how much immigration the United States should allow.

One earlier proposal from the president included an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy — an act that reduces the number of people living and working in the country illegally.

The ultimate resolution of the issue is more legal immigration. With greater legal immigration the border would be more secure, as those wishing to come would no longer need to sneak in, and the country would better off as the economy grew faster.

Economic theory and historical evidence show that immigration is good for the U.S. Anyone willing to move to a new country is generally ambitious. Such immigrants help lift living standards and bring faster growth.

Research on the benefits of immigration continues to grow. Immigrants expand the economy’s productive capacity, stimulate new investment and boost productivity. One study showed that states in America with higher immigrant worker populations have higher rates of output per worker.

Economists have long known that increasing productivity is the key to economic growth. Higher worker productivity raises our standard of living by lowering product costs and increasing output.

A faster growing economy makes everyone better off, even the government. More output brings in more tax revenue, helping reduce the federal budget deficit and increasing state budgets for education and other priorities.

Worker productivity growth in the U.S. remains below its long-run rate of 3 percent per year. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that U.S. labor productivity has been below that of other wealthy nations for over six years now. If the U.S. continues to put up walls against immigrant workers, our output will grow slower than elsewhere.

The law must be respected, but we shouldn’t be too concerned over how immigrants get to the U.S. They come for the jobs, which the U.S. has many of now, as the unemployment rate remains low.

As long as our economy continues to produce jobs, workers will come. Secure our borders and end this age-old debate by increasing legal immigration.

Peter Crabb is a professor of finance and economics at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. pcrabb@nnu.edu.

Possible Titles:

Shutdown over, but age-old debate continues

More immigration means better border security

Keywords:

Economy, economic growth, productivity, immigration, border wall, DACA

Links:

Shut down deal: https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/business/article225066305.html

DACA offer: https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/politics-government/article225034930.html

Immigration Research:

https://voxeu.org/article/immigration-and-economic-prosperity

https://www.frbsf.org/economic-research/publications/economic-letter/2010/august/effect-immigrants-us-employment-productivity/

Labor productivity data:

https://www.bls.gov/lpc/

https://data.oecd.org/lprdty/gdp-per-hour-worked.htm

Employment data:

https://www.bls.gov/cps/

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