One of the strongest arguments in favor of comprehensive immigration reform is that it will make America more prosperous and competitive. All credible studies show that an immigration system which meets the needs of businesses and US workers will add trillions to the economy, raise wages, and put Americans back to work. Simply stated, immigration reform is good business and good for America’s future.
That’s why I was very excited to attend and give the opening remarks at the EB-5 Investor’s Conference which took place last Friday in Boston before a sell-out crowd. Last month in my installation speech at the AILA Annual Conference I recalled Ronald Reagan’s final farewell to the nation in which he described his vision of America as beckoning immigrants with “the will and the heart” to get here. Reagan understood that America’s strength is its openness: its celebration of creativity and new ideas. And who is a better example of that then an immigrant who is willing to risk hard earned resources for the chance at the American Dream?
In his introductory remarks EB-5 Investor Visa conference chair Lincoln Stone referred to the visa as the “Golden Ticket.” His description is spot on. The visa has lead to investment across the US in areas that suffer higher rates of unemployment. To be sure, it is a fast developing area. Practitioners and entrepreneurs must master not only the intricacies of the law, but be sure to be aware of the ethical and fiduciary issues that come with the territory. Yet, it is beyond dispute that by attracting much needed capital to the US this visa category has the potential to indeed become a “Golden Ticket” for America. What else can you say about a visa that by definition directly creates jobs for US workers and helps stimulate the US economy?
And can you imagine how golden that ticket would be if, coupled with a successful immigrant investor program, Congress passed comprehensive immigration reform? The Center for American Progress and the Immigration Policy Center have pointed out that CIR will add at least $1.5 trillion in cumulative U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over 10 years. Over the first three years, higher personal income would generate increased consumer spending—enough to support 750,000–900,000 jobs in the United States—as well as increased tax revenues of $4.5–$5.4 billion. The benefits of additional growth in the GDP would be spread broadly throughout the U.S. economy, but immigrant-heavy sectors such as textiles, electronic equipment, and construction would see particularly large increases. Moreover, wages would rise for both less-skilled and higher-skilled U.S. workers. And these figures are supported across the political spectrum. An August 2009 report by the libertarian CATO Institute found that comprehensive reform would increase U.S. GDP by $180 billion in 2019.
All we need now is for the Administration and Congress to role up their sleeves and to get to work.