Last year the independent institute released an open letter to the president and congress on the contributions of immigrants to the US economy. It was signed by 500 economists from all 50 states.
Throughout our history as an immigrant nation, those who were already here have worried about the impact of newcomers. Yet, over time, immigrants have become part of a richer America, richer both economically and culturally. The current debate over immigration is a healthy part of a democratic society, but as economists and other social scientists we are concerned that some of the fundamental economics of immigration are too often obscured by misguided commentary.
Most crime is committed by citizens. Moreover, crime in America is way down and has not been this low since the 1960s. Put simply, reducing immigration is not an efficient way to reduce crime.
Several years ago the Cato Institute surveyed the past presidents of the American Economic Association and the past chairmen of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Eighty percent agreed that immigration has had "a very favorable impact on the nation's economic growth," and 70% said that even illegal immigrant workers "have a positive economic impact." These experts agree that on balance immigrants don't displace native workers, depress wages or abuse welfare. If only these economic facts could break through an immigration debate that is dominated by emotion and political fear.