The quest to create a modern, effective immigration system should not force us into a false choice between highly educated and family-based forms of immigration. Instead, comprehensive immigration reform should be a vehicle for creating more permanent legal immigration into the United States by individuals from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Doing so would not only be true to our traditional values; it is an economic imperative.
Expanding immigration opportunities across the socioeconomic spectrum squares with the positive contributions those immigrants have made and can make to the U.S. economy and society. Foreign-born workers and their families make a significant contribution to the U.S. economy across all income and education levels. Immigrants, for example, contribute $80,000 more per capita in taxes than they consume in government services. Immigrants are also engines of job creation. For example, immigrants are significantly more likely to be engaged in entrepreneurial activity than native-born Americans. Finally, immigrants—legal and undocumented alike—are estimated to generate approximately $700 billion in economic activity or 5.4 percent of the country’s GDP —a figure that outdistances the GDP contribution of all but four states in the union.
For more on the Center’s policies on immigration, please see: