President Trump wants to cut the legal immigration in half over a 10-year span, creating a “merit-based system” that caters to green card applicants who speak English and have technical skills. It would eliminate the diversity lottery visa, reduce the number of refugees who get permanent residency and allow U.S. citizens to sponsor only their spouse or child — not their sibling or elderly parent, as the current system allows.
Since Republicans constantly frame their policies in economic terms, yet can almost never back their policies up with real economic data, here’s some real data:
- A recent U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce study reported that Hispanic consumers contributed more than $1.3 trillion to the United States economy in 2016 and that sales from Hispanic-owned businesses contribute more than $668 billion to the U.S. economy, an increase of 29 percent since 2012 and nearly twice the total in 2007.
- Hispanics contribute an estimated $46 billion in purchasing power to the state economy.
- In Middlesex County alone we’ve seen a 45-percent increase in the Hispanic population since 2000, with Latinos comprising 18 percent of the county’s population.
- Hispanics are solely responsible for New Jersey’s population growth since 2010, with the Hispanic population growing while the non-Hispanic population remains stagnant.
So forgive me if I balk at the argument that having a comprehensive immigration policy is not sound economic development policy. It is.
Yet, there remain significant obstacles facing the Hispanic community, including, according to NJ Spotlight, education policies, immigration laws, and labor trends.
Beyond that, we have to do everything we can in our local, county, and state power to protect the rights, safety, health and dignity of our neighbors. Look what’s happening in Highland Park, where we created a new municipal Commission on Immigrant and Refugee Affairs to examine these issues carefully in the near- and long-term.
We cannot let dogma dicate policy.
FYI—Further Your Information:
Demographic profile of Hispanics in New Jersey, 2014, Pew Research Center, Hispanic Trends
For NJ’s Latino Community, Strong Economic Success And Lingering Struggles, John Reitmeyer for NJ Spotlight
PHOTO: Brian Lee, an immigration activist, participates in a May 1 “Here to Stay” rally at Liberty State Park in Jersey City (Photo by Matthew B. Hersh)