Editorial Roundup: Newcomers vital to U.S., local economies

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

President Donald Trump last week endorsed an immigration proposal that features two major changes to the status quo. One of those revisions is worthy of at least serious debate; the other would damage the economy and should be rejected outright.

The specific proposal comes from a pair of Republican senators, David Purdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas. It would replace the current family-first priority for applicants with a system based on skills. And it would cut the level of legal immigration in half.

The first has some merit; the second does not.

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Such proposals are based on a fallacy: That immigrants consume more public resources than they create. That is simply false.

The nation’s demographics demand a higher level of immigration. The baby boomers are aging out of the workforce (10,000 of them retire daily) and there aren’t enough native-born Americans entering to replace them. Just half of native-born Americans are in their prime working years (ages 25-64); more than 72 percent of immigrants are.

This makes immigrants net contributors to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Immigrants paid about $328 billion in taxes in 2014, according to one estimate. Immigrants also start businesses at a higher rate than native-born Americans. Almost 6 million people work at immigrant-owned companies in the United States.

The proposal claims to be based on the immigration systems of Canada and Australia. But those nations also admit far more immigrants, as a percentage of population, than this nation does now.

A University of Minnesota report issued in January states flatly: “… attracting more immigrants is an imperative for Minnesota in order to address the challenges linked to the slowing growth of the state’s population and labor force.” This, as a Greater Mankato Growth forum in May noted, is particularly true in outstate Minnesota as a whole and the Mankato region specifically.

Immigrants are vital to economic growth, nationally and locally. Focusing our admissions on skills rather than uniting families may have some merit. Halving immigration would be a mistake.

— Mankato Free Press, Aug. 7

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Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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