Why more immigration is key to U.S. economic growth

Immigration Built This NationImmigrants who have moved here care deeply about American values such as hard work and entrepreneurship and have always been strong contributors to the economy.  A pair of recent articles are worth a read on how immigrant Americans have made essential contributions to our economy – and particularly to innovation – in past and present, and the importance of immigration reform to keep it that way.

This article from Bloomberg Businessweek explains how immigrant Americans are indispensable to future growth, but the lack of a clear, sensible federal immigration policy is getting in the way.

The article points out that the United States is an aging country with a declining birth rate, which leaves a void of future workers. Current U.S. immigration policy is shutting out home owners, entrepreneurs, future small business owners, health and child-care professionals, agricultural and construction workers, and innovators – people who are key to the sustainability and growth of the economy.

Note the closing paragraph:

“Our refusal to let more migrants into America is delaying the recovery. It’s costing Americans jobs. It’s damaging our long-term prospects as a nation of innovation and entrepreneurship, putting at greater risk the sustainability of such programs as Social Security and Medicare, and concentrating the burden of U.S. debt on a declining number of working-age people. It’s time for America’s politicians to do more than merely duck this issue and actually lead on it.”

A column from Friday’s New York Times reminds us how immigrants have been some of America’s greatest innovators – including some of the most recognizable names in industry, banking, journalism, the arts, and technology.  As author Thomas K. McCraw describes immigrants often have been well-suited to push our economy and society in new directions with new ideas. He then notes that new immigrants and established residents have been strongest together:

“Compared with the native-born, who have extended families and lifelong social and commercial relationships, immigrants without such ties — without businesses to inherit or family property to protect — are in some ways better prepared to play the innovator’s role. A hundred academic monographs could not prove that immigrants are more innovative than native-born Americans, because each spurs the other on. Innovations by the blended population were, and still are, integral to the economic growth of the United States.  But our overly complex immigration law hampers even the most obvious innovators’ efforts to become citizens. It endangers our tradition of entrepreneurship, and it must be repaired — soon.”

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