Episode #41

The Economics of Immigration Reform

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Friday, February 01, 2013

The push for immigration reform got a shot in the arm this week when a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators released a comprehensive proposal that would provide a path to citizenship for the country's 11 million undocumented workers. 

The announcement Monday came a day before President Obama pitched his own plan

"We have an immigration system that is out of date and badly broken, a system that’s holding us back instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class," Mr. Obama said in a speech at a Nevada high school Tuesday. 

In this episode of Money Talking, Joe Nocera of the New York Times and Rana Foroohar of Time magazine examine the economic case for immigration reform, which has been made by researchers, business leaders and elected officials of every political persuasion.

The most recent attempt at comprehensive immigration reform ended abruptly in June 2007 when President George W. Bush's proposals failed to pass the Senate

A few weeks earlier, the Congressional Budget Office found that legalizing undocumented immigrants would have a slight net benefit on the federal budget, increasing revenues by $48 billion while costing just $23 billion in increased public services.

Nocera and Foroohar explain what this year's proposed reforms would mean for wages and benefits, entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, consumer prices and the economy as a whole.

Looking ahead, Nocera previews the future for aerospace giant Boeing Co. as it struggles to roll out its 787 Dreamliner, the high-tech jet that has been held up by supply chain issues and malfunctions of its lithium-ion batteries

Foroohar talks about how General Electric is forging new ground when it comes to wiring appliances and even jet engines with sensors so they can transmit information to people and other machines. It's known as the Industrial Internet

Hosted by:

Charlie Herman

Produced by:

Daniel P. Tucker


Rana Foroohar and Joe Nocera

Comments [3]

Everyone recognizes that having 12 million unauthorized migrants living and working in the U.S. is a problem. We need to fix that. Alternatives include amnesty for long-term residents, but that still means some of them must be deported because they do not meet the qualifications to be lawfully admitted -- such as their criminal history.

But what the corporations have done is to escalate this one issue into a demand for "comprehensive immigration reform," and cries that "the system is broken."

As a result, politicians in both parties are now insisting that we must give corporations the right to import unlimited numbers of foreign workers. More workers seeking fewer jobs (because of the depression) means higher unemployment, lower wages, more job insecurity.

What we should do is halt all immigration of anyone who plans to work in the U.S. until our own unemployment is lower than 3%. This is obvious. Stop importing foreign labor, stop sending our jobs to third world countries and allow products to be brought back here and sold, tariff free.

The only question that should be asked about immigration is this: What is in the best interests of American working people. We are the citizens, and no law or policy should ever be implemented unless there is a direct benefit to us, the people. There is no benefit to American working people in the proposed changes to the immigration law except to clear up the status of the 12 million unauthorized migrants.

As an aside, 12 million people who become citizens can bring here their spouses, parents, siblings, children. That 12 million could turn into 60 million new residents in 5 years. Is it in the best interest of this country to increase the population so radically in such a short period of time? No. Most of those people have little education, are semi-literate, have no real skills, and will earn very little money. Does it benefit the people of the U.S. to import poverty? The answer is no. Who benefits? Corporations and businesses who sell products. Who loses? Local communities which are overwhelmed in trying to meet the needs of large migrant populations.

Feb. 01 2013 02:12 PM
Greg from New York

The cynical side of me sees this push for immigration reform as an excuse to codify worker exploits; i.e. cheap immigrant labor now made legal. It's a way for rich capitalists, commonly called "business owners" in the popular lexicon, to further normalize the decline of wages in the workforce and as a means to grow the income inequality gap.

The only way to have fair immigration reform is to tie it to a bill which strongly increases worker rights and protections. Sadly, this is highly unlikely.

Feb. 01 2013 10:54 AM
Brenda from NJ

Can you explain why you call these programs "entitlement programs" when we are actually paying into it on every single check since we start working?

Feb. 01 2013 08:52 AM

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