Why Immigration is Not a Zero-Sum Game

By Jeff Wasden

Immigration has been a political hot potato for decades. While there are many complexities to immigration, from border security to balancing the correct allotment of visas to legal requirements, there is strong bipartisan support for acting on immigration reform.

There are many that view immigration as a zero-sum game – that if immigrants are allowed access and secure employment, somehow the U.S. economy suffers and American workers are denied opportunities. That is a nonsensical argument fed by misguided beliefs in the role immigrants play and the jobs they fill.  Immigration has been a critical staple for companies who need world class talent to innovate and compete in the global marketplace. Immigrants are entrepreneurial and spur direct and indirect job creation, drive higher consumption, state and local taxes, and have a positive impact on local communities. Business understands the importance of diversity of thought and how it spurs innovation, creativity, and ultimately, economic growth.

We need an immigration policy that doesn’t create winners and losers, but builds upon the strengths of the human spirit.

We need an immigration policy that doesn’t create winners and losers, but builds upon the strengths of the human spirit. Our workforce is changing rapidly and many of today’s jobs didn’t exist fifteen years ago. As business looks to the future and its human capital strategy, our immigration policy is inextricably linked not only to our education system but to industries’ ability to find the necessary talent that can propel them forward. We have long supported immigration policies that reflect the needs of industry, are nimble and responsive to rapidly changing workforce demands, and drive benefits to local economies. While there is no magic panacea to all of our legal and illegal immigration challenges, there is tangible and pragmatic legislation that can not only keep our communities safe but provide a path forward so America can continue to be the world’s economic leader.

Jeff Wasden is the president of the Colorado Business Roundtable and a speaker at Leading the Way: An American Approach to Immigration.

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