Finding a New Path Forward on Immigration

Blog Post, Nicholas V. Montalto, Coordinator, NJBIC, August 15, 2020….

Never before has the world faced such an abrupt and near-complete halt to human mobility as during the current pandemic. With advances in transportation and communication over the last century, labor and other forms of mobility have become essential features of the global economy.  The United States, more than most countries, has benefitted from the energy, talent, and creativity of its immigrant population. Indeed, some would argue that America’s economic, scientific, and military prowess owes much to its ability to attract talent and labor from abroad.

Throughout American history, however, there have been skeptics who considered immigrants a threat to American workers and who feared the diversity that immigrants brought to the country. This sentiment has grown stronger in recent years and has gained champions within the current administration. The pandemic has provided cover for them to implement an unprecedented restrictionist agenda that deviates from the policy consensus on immigration dominant within both political parties until recently.

As Erol Yayboke pointed out in a commentary for the Center For Strategic and International Studies, “faucets turn off more easily than they turn on.” It will require clear analysis and concerted advocacy to find a new way forward on immigration and regain the advantage that immigration has brought to the State of New Jersey and the nation.

Despite the severity of the pandemic, the fundamentals that should govern the setting of immigration policy have not changed. The country’s ability to draw the “best and the brightest” from around the world will remain crucial to the overall success of the economy. The health of many sectors of the economy will depend on the availability of immigrant labor.  Immigrant entrepreneurs will continue to create new enterprises employing tens of thousands of Americans. Declining and below-replacement birth rates throughout the developed world will make immigrants more of a precious asset than a controversial presence.

By remaining true to its tradition of welcoming and integrating immigrants, the United States can rebuild its economy and regain its preeminence as a “nation of immigrants.”