Among the many myths about immigration in the US, the most prevalent is that a progressive immigration policy only benefits immigrants and their families. This couldn’t be farther from the truth: immigration policy affects the entire nation’s future and, with America’s economic and political position in the world, the future of the globe more broadly. Though partisan cynicism has led some to believe that immigration policy is a Democratic Party wedge issue designed to garner votes from the newly landed, it is actually a vital part of our 21st-century economy and needs to be approached with an informed understanding.
Many economic experts believe that our failed immigration policies were a major contributor to America’s most recent economic recession; Alan Greenspan himself spoke of immigration policy as central to the U.S. economic recovery and planning.
Unfortunately, immigration policy is often discussed from the most extreme points of view. Pro-immigrant advocates have argued for family unity and refugees, immigration policy as an international form of social work. They advocate for the rights of undocumented children, the basic needs of the poor immigrants, and the displaced and oppressed in other parts of the world. To maintain their ideological purity, many immigration advocates have ignored policy changes to improve employment-based immigration. As a result, immigration policies have developed as an ad hoc patchwork and not as a part of the comprehensive vision for America.
On the side, anti-immigrant forces advocate for protectionist policies, arguing that cheap immigrant workers are lowering the wages of the average American worker, taking jobs away from native-born Americans, and are taking advantage of the social safety net provided to those who reside in America. With such polarized political rhetoric, American employment-based immigration policies have been left to ossify into a complex paradoxical web of confusion and inefficiency, helping neither American companies nor their immigrant workers.