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Past Event

Migrants, refugees, and the economy

Are they pushing us forward or holding us back?

Past Event

Immigration reform remains a hot button topic in the lead up to the 2018 midterm elections. Though the evidence base on the positive impacts of migrants on economic growth is substantial, political rhetoric has largely continued to paint migrants as a threat to native worker prosperity. Do migrants steal jobs, depress wages, and displace native workers or act as a conduit for the infusion of new ideas, technology, and talent into the workforce? Are refugees a net drain or a net gain for the economy? Should the U.S. prioritize visas for highly skilled workers, moving towards a so-called “merit based” migration scheme, or continue to rely on demand driven H1B visas with annual caps to temper the immigration flow? Such questions have led many candidates to make immigration reform a key campaign pillar.

In light of these debates, on Friday, November 2, the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings hosted a discussion about the economic impact of migrants and refugees on host nations, with a focus on implications for U.S. immigration policy moving forward. Brookings Fellow Dany Bahar moderated a panel of experts including, William Kerr, author of a new book, “The Gift of Global Talent: How Migration Shapes Business, Economy and Society,” Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development, and Anna Maria Mayda of Georgetown University.

After the program, the panelists took audience questions.


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