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.
Professor of Economics - The University of California at Davis
Senior Economist, The Rand Corporation
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