Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now! (36101)

Dear Mr. President,

Despite what some may claim, there is no fixing of the economy before immigration reform, for at the end of the day, immigration and economics go hand in hand.

The Bush Center in Dallas got into the fray of this discourse on Wednesday, Dec. 5, with former President George W. Bush making a rare appearance in front of the media to talk about an issue that was near and dear to his heart during his eight years in office.

Immigration and economic growth were combined, with the session choosing to look at the role immigrants continue to play in the U.S. economy as well as their contributions to business growth. As the center importantly recognized, “Unfortunately, the national discussion of immigration often overlooks these economic facts.”

To reiterate the facts, a booklet titled “Growth and Immigration: A Handbook of Vital Immigration and Economic Growth Statistics,” by Matthew Denhart, was released by the center.

The discourse comes at a time when both sides are heeding your call for immigration reform, but while the argument has been more of a humanitarian one, the Bush Center booklet, like so many other studies, argues that the economics of this issue has to be the selling point.

For instance, did you know that immigrants account for 13 percent of the entire U.S. population yet account for 15.9 percent of the U.S. labor force? Or that in 2006 alone, non-citizen immigrants applied for almost one-quarter of all U.S. international patent applications?

There can be no surprise in the fact that Denhart found that immigrants are more likely than natives to create their own jobs and that the number of immigrant small business owners expanded by 539,000 during the past two decades. Between 1995 and 2005, more than half of all major engineering and technology firms founded in Silicon Valley had an immigrant as a key founder while more than 40 percent of all companies on the 2010 “Fortune 500” list were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.

But here’s another interesting fact from “Growth and Immigration”: “Immigrant college graduates are granted more patents on average than similarly educated native-born Americans,” and immigrants are good at bringing their ideas to the marketplace and sharing new ideas by publishing scholarly works.

Yet the biggest selling point of all is the fact that economist Richard Vedder estimates that if the U.S. had adopted a pro-growth immigration policy framework in the 1960s, real GDP growth would have averaged approximately 3.1 percent in those years. This means that U.S. GDP would have been approximately $2 trillion greater in 2011 than was actually the case.

The booklet also noted that although immigration reform alone does not take the economy to 4 percent growth, immigration reform in earlier decades could have closed the gap by more than a quarter between actual GDP growth and our goal of real GDP growth of 4 percent on an annual basis. Combined with other pro-growth policies, immigration reform is a key component to achieving strong and lasting economic growth, states Denhart.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s show the so called fiscally prudent Republicans the economic facts of immigration reform and let’s make it the New Year gift immigrants can believe in come early 2013.

Bush said it best Wednesday: “Not only do immigrants help build our economy, they invigorate our soul.”


Felicia Persaud

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.