Transcript: Q&A with Sen. Martin Heinrich on the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy – Joint Economic Committee hearing on May 7, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) on the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy. The Joint Economic Committee hearing was held on May 7, 2013:

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.):
…As an engineer, I do know that STEM education is incredibly important to our economy and that the next generation of STEM leaders will play a critical role in driving us more in an increasingly global and competitive economy. I wondered if you could say a few words about the impact of immigration policies today that really forced many of these U.S.-educated STEM graduates to return to their countries of origin rather than putting those skill sets to work here in the United States?

Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform:
Absolutely. Look, a whole collection of people who used to be anti-immigrant are now pro-immigrant, pro-immigration reform, including Lou Dobbs, right? When he was on CNN, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, he complained about these immigrants coming to this country and said we should just keep them out. And then the rest of the week, he complained about the outsourcing to the people we’ve kept out. Which gave him Saturday off.

But if you tell a highly talented person, “You cannot come and be highly productive here in the United States. You have to do it someplace else.” They don’t, you know, quit working. They not only don’t add to our economy and to all the success of us, but they go out and compete with us and then people have to – “We need an engineer to do this.” Well, then there’s one in India. Yeah, they got the guy we wouldn’t let in, right? So we outsource to them and then people whine about outsourcing.

You can avoid outsourcing by having talented people come and stay here and STEM education is one way to target that. I mean, why in the world would you take all that lovely talent and somebody who wants to become an American and tell them to go live in France or something awful like that?

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.):
Especially when we contributed a great deal to the educational system that made that possible for them.

Dr. Kugler, I was home last week in New Mexico and spent a great deal of time down on the southern border, in Dona Ana County, met with – spent a lot of time with border patrol, a lot of time with port of entry, which is very economically important, and a lot of time with a number of the immigration reform advocates in that part of the state. And many of the people that I got a chance to meet with are DREAM Act students. They’re students who came to the country not really by any choice that they made but by choice that their parents’ made. Incredibly motivated, hardworking, not only want to make a better life for themselves but really want to contribute to this country – the only country that they know as their home. A lot of them want to start businesses, be engineers or doctors or scientists. And I wondered if you could talk a little bit about the particular aspects of how including an expedited path for these students as part of an overall accountable immigration reform effort will impact our economy and not just the border region but the entire country?

Dr. Adriana D. Kugler, Professor at Georgetown University and Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor in 2011 and 2012:
So these so-called Dreamers, I think the fast-track – so-called fast-track instead of giving them a 13-year window but giving them the 5-year window makes a whole lot of sense. As you mentioned, these are people who are usually going to stay here no matter what. They’re Americans for all practical purposes. And they will most likely become educated, continue to college, and contribute to the economy in all sorts of ways. There are some very good studies that have been done about the ripple effects and the increased earnings that they would gain once they gain legal status. This is the big issue, right? Once you get legal status to people, they’re much more willing to make investments not only into education but also in terms of creating businesses and to make long-term investments into their careers here in the U.S. So we know there are actually big gains economically, as taxpayers, as consumers, and this is money again that ripples through the economy, and there are some very good estimates on that end.


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