The Economic/Immigration Reality Gap

As illustrated by the latest economic issues facing the United States, we see how economic policy and perspectives are playing an increasing role in public discussions regarding many issues. Educators, business people, and legislators often use economics as a way to explain the impact and effectiveness of a particular policy. However, this economic perspective is often not used when it comes to immigration policy. Immigration is often a topic directed more by fallacy than facts – more by political rhetoric than practical discussions.

Case in point the latest study by the Fiscal Policy Institute which reports that “immigrants are by no means all low-wage workers in the 25 largest metropolitan areas…”  The study conveys that “in many metro areas, there are more higher-skilled immigrants than there are lower-skilled. Surprisingly, these are not the metro areas with the most economic growth; rather, they are areas with low overall immigration, including Pittsburgh, Detroit, and St. Louis.” The New York Times discusses the study as well sharing that “…cities with thriving immigrant populations — with high-earning and lower-wage workers — tended to be those that prospered the most.”

Those informed about the economic impact of immigration would argue that those opposed to increased immigration have an economic self-interest. Ironically, even our political leaders fall short in applying basic economic theory to their analysis and review of current immigration policy.  I understand there are valid arguments in favor of restrictive immigration laws, and I appreciate them, especially those dealing with national security. However, reports like these consistently demonstrate that the so-called negative economic impact of immigration is vague and unproven – and that the benefits of a practical and well developed immigration policy are proven and substantiated.