Sep 28

Past Event

Crossing Borders: From Myth to Sound Immigration Policy

Event Materials



  • Common Sense Immigration Reform

    Melody Barnes, the White House: Immigration reform is common sense and would boost both the economy and the nation''s competitive stance. Too many foreign students get pushed out the door once they graduate.

  • Immigrants Raise Everyone's Living Standards

    Michael Greenstone: We''re in the midst of very trying economic times, but a good time to reexamine immigration policy. The facts tell us that immigrants can raise the living standards of all Americans.

  • Immigration a Contentious Issue since Reagan

    Mark McKinnon, Public Strategies: Immigration is remarkable in terms of its intensity, the emotion, the fiction, and the mythology. If Ronald Reagan were running for president today, he probably wouldn''t be elected because of this issue.

  • Costs and Benefits of Immigrants

    Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.Mex.): (via videotape) In New Mexico, we understand the costs and benefits of immigrants. He compares New Mexico''s attitudes toward immigrants to those of neighboring Arizona.

  • Establishing the Facts on Immigration

    Robert Rubin, former U.S. Treasury Secretary: Immigration is a contentious issue; we could add value by establishing the facts and to make judgments about immigrants'' economic impacts.

  • Other National Immigration Models

    Darrell West: Compares the United States to other countries, such as Canada, that target workers from others countries to supplement their workforce.

  • Immigrants Needed in Many Industries

    John Wilhelm: Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union: The hospitality industry would have to shut down without immigrants. America needs immigrants for health care and many other industries.


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Debates on immigration reform have often snagged on public misperceptions about foreign-born residents within U.S. borders. Now, with Congress and the administration once again focused on reform, a wide range of myths about the costs and benefits to the United States of employing noncitizens, from lower-wage to highly skilled workers, threatens to derail productive action.

On September 28, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum focused on the economics of immigration. A panel of economic experts helped distinguish economic reality from myth in the current debate—with particular regard to the impact of immigration on the wages of middle-class and lower-income workers; the living standards of Americans; and the demand for, and availability of, visas for highly skilled workers.

A second panel of leaders from the private sector, academia and labor provided their perspectives on the impacts of current immigration policies on both workers and employers. Melody Barnes, assistant to the president for domestic policy, joined the event to give brief remarks about the administration’s immigration policy agenda. Governor Richardson appeared via videotape to close the forum with remarks highlighting the economic impact of immigration on New Mexico—a state with an immigrant population that more than doubled in the 1990s and continues to grow.

Read Melody Barnes' prepared remarks » (pdf)

Event Agenda

  • 9:00-9:15 AM -- Welcome

    • Robert E. Rubin

      Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

      Former U.S. Treasury Secretary

  • 9:15-10:20 AM -- Panel One – The Economic Evidence on Immigration

  • 10:20-11:30 AM -- Panel Two – Immigration Policy: Impacts on Workers, Employers, and America’s Future

    • Moderator: Mark McKinnon

      Vice Chair, Public Strategies

    • Steve Hyman

      Provost, Harvard University

    • Lydia Tamez

      Head of Global Immigration, Microsoft Corporation

    • John Wilhelm

      President, Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union

  • 11:30-11:50 AM -- Guest Speaker

    • Melody Barnes

      Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, The White House

  • 11:50 AM-12:10 PM -- Featured Remarks

    • The Honorable Bill Richardson

      Governor of New Mexico


September 28, 2010

9:00 AM - 12:15 PM EDT

Washington Court Hotel

Grand Ballroom

525 New Jersey Avenue, NW


For More Information

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