One says leave. One says stay. And we’re not talking about Brexit.
Republican Donald Trump kicked off his presidential bid in 2015 by highlighting immigration as a key issue. He’s only doubled down since. Trump wants to deport all 11 million or so undocumented workers and their families, which could cause a labor shortage in industries such as farming, landscaping and meatpacking. Some analysts think native-born Americans will fill those jobs, but there’s no guarantee they want the work or are even available in sufficient numbers. That’s why some economists consider Trump’s immigration plan a downer for the economy.
Democrat Hillary Clinton would take the opposite approach, seeking a pathway to citizenship for most undocumented workers. That might be politically possible if Congress first passed new measures to strengthen security along with southwest border and other entry points for people entering the country illegally. That was the basis of an immigration reform bill the Senate passed in 2013, which died in the House or Representatives. Clinton could seek to revive it.
Immigration is an emotional social issue, as well as an important economic one. Many economists argue that the United States needs more immigrants to expand the labor force, especially with the looming mass retirement of the baby boomers. A growing labor force helps boost productivity, output and living standards. Immigrants also start more businesses than native-born Americans, especially well-educated ones who come here to attend college. Clinton wants to do more to keep them here once they graduate.
The economic argument, of course, gets commingled with social concerns about drugs, crime and public-benefit costs that may be associated with immigration, which is why outdated laws haven’t been updated. One way or another, the next president aims to change that.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman.
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