In 2013, Kevin Hassett, who is now chair of the Trump Administration Council of Economic Advisors, wrote an article entitled “America Needs Workers” in an issue of National Review. In the article, Hassett stated that the U.S. could add half a percentage point to its economic growth by doubling the number of immigrants it lets into the country. This would be especially true, he wrote, if the immigrants came on employer-sponsored visas.
Ironic for a country that is known as a melting pot and land of immigrants, Hassett noted in his article that the U.S. lags far behind other countries in the number of immigrants it admits each year. Ironic for a country that is known as a melting pot and land of immigrants.
This is not a position that Hassett has abandoned. He last week he reiterated his position before the Joint Economic Committee. He remarked, “As an economist, if you want more output, you need more input, and labor is one of those inputs. For any economy, immigration is an important source of labor.”
Labor by Hassett’s definition includes both high skilled and low skilled immigrants. The RAISE act, as proposed, would introduce merit-based immigration almost eliminating low skilled immigration. Regarding the merit-based program, Hassett takes a personal stance. “I’m very grateful that my Irish ancestors came here,” Hassett testified to the joint committee. “And I’m pretty sure that they weren’t allowed here because they had computer degrees.”
In light of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the immigration status of the most recent New York terrorist attacker, the Diversity Lottery may soon be sacrificed. However, this should not be packaged in a bill like the RAISE act that drastically reduces all types of immigration including high-skilled, low-skilled, and family based.
Hassett was writing in 2010 and had the lagging economy well in mind. However, his words resonate as loudly today as they did almost a decade ago. He wrote that, “allowing more immigrants to enter for the sake of employment is one of the few policies that might restore our old normal.”