April 28, 2006
Economist Ben Powell Says Immigration Benefits U.S. Economy
A national boycott planned for May 1, by pro-immigration organizers hoping to push Congress to act on reforming U.S. immigration policy, could shut down businesses across the country. But the economic impact of the planned May 1 immigration protests and their accompanying boycott will pale in comparison to the negative effects the U.S. would experience if it deports large numbers of the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S., says economist Benjamin Powell, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute.
"Immigrant groups are split on whether to abstain from working and purchasing products on Monday so participation in the boycott is a wild card. Though a widespread boycott would be disruptive, the effects of losing migrant labor for a day are not nearly as harmful as losing it permanently as the Bill passed by the House of Representatives would," says Powell.
The House Bill on immigration reform would make illegal immigrants felons, increase penalties on employers who hire illegals, and would erect a fence along approximately one-third of the Mexican border. "This bill would be catastrophic for industries currently employing large numbers of illegal immigrants," says Powell. The McCain/ Kennedy bill proposed in the Senate is a better alternative, says Powell because it would allow current illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and apply for a guest-worker program after paying a fine, as well as permit approximately 400,000 new guest workers into the U.S. each year.
But the McCain/Kennedy bill should go farther, says Powell. "We should allow as many guest workers as employers are willing to hire. Immigration is a net benefit to our economy and does not harm the overall wages or employment opportunities for Americans."