CNN's Candy Crowley asked Sunday if President Obama pursued immigration reform "at the risk of not focusing on the economy," ignoring the fact that experts agree immigration reform will strengthen the economy, leading to higher wages, more jobs, and more tax revenue.
On CNN's State of the Union, Crowley pointed to the contraction in GDP in the last quarter of 2012 and the small increase in unemployment in January, and implied President Obama was not focused on these issues, saying "we've heard since the beginning of January gun control and immigration reform ... Does the President pursue immigration and gun control at the risk of not focusing on the economy?"
In fact, experts agree immigration reform will strengthen the economy. According to UCLA professor and immigration expert Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, passing comprehensive immigration reform would add at least $1.5 trillion to the U.S. economy over ten years, generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue, and create 750,000 to 900,000 new jobs. Labor economist Richard Vedder of Ohio University also found that higher levels of immigration coincide with lower levels of unemployment, and a Brookings Institution report concluded that immigrants raise the standard of living of American workers "by boosting wages and lowering prices."
In a post on The Washington Post's Wonkblog, Ezra Klein pointed out that immigration could ease many of the economic problems associated with an aging population and low birth rate:
The economic case for immigration is best made by way of analogy. Everyone agrees that aging economies with low birth rates are in trouble; this, for example, is a thoroughly conventional view of Japan. It's even conventional wisdom about the U.S. The retirement of the baby boomers is correctly understood as an economic challenge. The ratio of working Americans to retirees will fall from 5 to 1 today to 3 to 1 in 2050. Fewer workers and more retirees is tough on any economy.
There's nothing controversial about that analysis. But if that's not controversial, then immigration shouldn't be, either. Immigration is essentially the importation of new workers. It's akin to raising the birth rate, only easier, because most of the newcomers are old enough to work. And because living in the U.S. is considered such a blessing that even very skilled, very industrious workers are willing to leave their home countries and come to ours, the U.S. has an unusual amount to gain from immigration. When it comes to the global draft for talent, we almost always get the first-round picks -- at least, if we want them, and if we make it relatively easy for them to come here.
President Obama has proposed immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11.1 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, better enforcement of immigration laws, and reforming the legal immigration system. According to recent polls, a majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, favor allowing undocumented immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens.