Economists urge president and Congress to introduce "smart immigration policy"

Nearly 1,500 economists, Republicans and Democrats, and members of every administration since President Reagan, have signed a letter urging the White House and Congress to recognize the benefits of immigration to the economy.

The letter, organized by the New American Economy and the American Action Forum, bipartisan organizations that focus on immigration and other policies, calls for a "smart immigration policy."

"The benefits that immigration brings to society far outweigh their costs, and smart immigration policy could better maximize the benefits of immigration while reducing the costs," the letter, signed also by six Nobel Laureates, stated.

One of the signatories is Professor Dennis Jansen, of Texas A&M, who said he signed because, simply, he agreed with the thinking of its authors.

"Overall, immigration is positive and I want that to get some consideration by policy makers," Jansen told the Texas Business Daily. "Our thought was just to put in word, and in front of the some of the public, the benefits of immigration — that is, documented legal immigration."

Insider Higher Education recently reported a 40 percent drop in the numbers of international students applying to U.S. universities. Jansen has not heard of this happening at Texas A&M at the undergraduate level, and said there is no obvious decrease among graduates.

President Donald Trump last week ordered a review of the H-1B program, which offers visas for skilled workers.

"These are useful for businesses, but they also bring skills, and those who arrive on those visas are far more likely to start businesses," Jansen said.

While acknowledging as an economist there are some costs linked to immigration, Jansen said it is part of overall economic growth, as much of 3 to 4 percent of GDP.

The letter argued that immigration brings entrepreneurs who start new businesses that hire American workers, brings young workers who help offset the large-scale retirement of baby boomers, and diverse skill sets that keep our workforce flexible, and help companies grow.

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