Immigration Reform Can Write a Better American Economic Story

Andy Halataei photo

Local media always tout the addition of a handful of jobs in their communities.  Just in the last few days, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel heralded, “Company's $2.3M Expansion to Create 10 Jobs in Woodburn.”  WJTV Television reported, “Lighting Company Expanding in Columbia Brings 20 New Jobs.”  And the Rhea Herald News highlighted, “La-Z-Boy Set to Add 25 New Jobs after County, City Deal.”

Each of these is a good-news story.  But they simply aren’t enough.  It’s time America’s economic story shifts to a higher gear -- from applauding small opportunities to one headlined by strong expansion, dynamic new businesses, and inspiring new job growth.  Writing that new chapter requires policies that advance innovation – such as immigration reform.

A new economic study based on data from Duke University Professor Jacob Vigdor and released by the Partnership for a New American Economy underscores just how important it is for Congress to adopt a 21st century immigration system.  Professor Vigdor’s data show that immigrants play a disproportionate role in creating new American jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector.

 

[I]mmigrants settling in American towns and cities contribute to their communities in countless ways.  They increase demand for housing, often in areas that would be in decline without them, raising the value of local homes and the wealth of American homeowners and families.  They become new customers at local businesses like restaurants and hair salons.  These new Americans also create and preserve jobs in the U.S.:  they start businesses at higher-than-average rates and fill critical labor needs in sectors like manufacturing, adding new skills to allow manufacturing to grow and remain here in America.

 

Here are some of the findings:

  • The more than 40 million immigrants currently in the U.S. have created or preserved 1.8 million manufacturing jobs nationally.
  • Attracting 100,000 new immigrants per year would preserve 4,600 American manufacturing jobs and grow U.S. housing wealth by $80 billion annually.
  • Immigration has accounted for a commanding majority of job growth in four of the five U.S. counties that have experienced the greatest increase in manufacturing jobs since 1970, such as Harris County, Tex. – home to Houston – where the increase of 43,299 manufacturing jobs since 1970 is attributable entirely to immigration.
  • Estimates indicate that 40 percent of Los Angeles County's manufacturing jobs would vanish without immigrants.
  • The more than 40 million immigrants are responsible for an estimated $3.7 trillion boost to home equity.

We’ve seen it all year:  one credible study after another comes out and reinforces the fact that immigration reform equals job creation.  Each report highlights in bold terms the point made recently by more than 450 businesses and organizations:  Failure to pass immigration reform is not an option for our economy.

Yes, there are a number of near-term and important priorities on the congressional calendar.  But immigration reform is about the long-term future of the U.S. economy – one that will create new jobs and opportunities for the American people.  That’s why it should be at the top of Congress’ fall to-do list.

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