Immigration Policy Is Economic Policy

Listening to NPR this morning I heard Mara Liasson say that the election is primarily about the economy (I agree) but that other side issues about gay equality, reproductive rights, gun ownership, and so forth also pop up. Except she characterized immigration as belonging in that non-economy bucket.

As a matter of political psychology that may well be correct. But as a question of actual public policy, immigration is one of the main tools Congress and the White House have at their disposal to impact the country’s prosperity. My latest column makes the case for more immigrants as a path to boosting American prosperity, especially focused on the currently unfashionable case for unskilled migrants as a boon for most Americans. I don’t disagree with the voguish case for skilled immigrants, but I think the way it’s discussed sometimes implies that less skilled workers aren’t helpful. The reality is that unless you have no specialized skills whatsoever and no English language capabilities then your skills are very likely to be complementary to those of unskilled migrants. The problem of an influx of workers in your exact profession is real enough, but the solution is to have a large and balanced portfolio of all sorts of immigrants.