I had the pleasure of participating in this year’s US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Summit in DC where top level elected officials and corporate executives joined Hispanic business leaders in a three-day intensive interchange of thoughts and ideas on some of our most critical business issues of the day. I served on a panel titled “The Business Case for Sensible Immigration Reform” where many interesting ideas were shared. Below are some of the points I contributed to the discussion:
- Today’s immigration agenda is mistakenly driven by the idea that unauthorized migrants are the main villain.
- The problem is primarily one of labor force management, labor is needed and the legal means to secure it for American businesses is not in place.
- Diplomacy also is lacking, leaders on both sides of the border must find ways to develop economies and improve security so there is less pressure to migrate to the U.S.
- The argument that “securing the border” is of primary importance (embraced by both republicans and democrats these days) is a red herring that will only delay resolving the issue…60 percent of unauthorized immigrants over-stay their visas and most of the violence is not at the border but South of the border in Mexico.
- The way in which Permanent Legal Resident Visas are allocated should be revisited; for example, 165 thousand are granted for Mexico and 57 thousand are allocated for India. If we believe in reciprocation, we should look at the export of U.S. goods. Mexico buys $163 billion worth of U.S. however India (no offense to our friends from India) buys only $19 billion worth.
- Approximately 150 thousand net unauthorized immigrants come from Mexico, the total estimated unauthorized migrants from Mexico is presently about 7 million (of the total of 11 million).
- Unauthorized migrants commit serious crimes at a rate lower than U.S. born individuals.
- It is illegal to hire an unauthorized immigrant, employers who hire them have committed a crime at least 11 million times.
- Immigrants are a net benefit to the American economy and to our competitiveness.
- Studies show that deporting all unauthorized migrants would diminish U.S. productivity; for example, the gross state product of Arizona would diminish by $48 billion and would result in job losses near 600 thousand—some of these jobs would be of legal and native born residents due to closure of businesses who depend on unauthorized labor.
- Deporting unauthorized immigrants would result in labor shortages, price increases, lower productivity and would damage our competitiveness in the world economy.
- Unauthorized migrants are a net benefit to the social security system. Former Chief Actuary of the U.S. Social Security Administration, Stephen Goss indicates that contributions minus benefit payments to unauthorized migrants were estimated at $120-$240 billion as of the year 2007…keeping our Social Security System afloat for several more years than it would otherwise be.
As my friend Edward Schumacher Matos says, “somebody should say thank you.”
Sources include: US Department of Homeland Security, US Department of Commerce, US Social Security Administration, Raul Hinojosa Ojeda and Marshall Fitz, Pew Hispanic Center, Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council, Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl.
For more information about the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, visit: http://www.ushcclegislative.com.
For a more complete upcoming report on this subject, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.