Grover Norquist’s top 6 reasons for supporting the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill

Grover Norquist, America’s toughest anti-tax crusader and deficit hawk, testified before the Joint Economic Committee on how higher levels of immigration would benefit the U.S. economy.

Here are key excerpts from Norquist’s testimony on May 7th explaining his support for the Senate immigration bill:

Reason #1: Granting legal status brings people out of the shadows and allow them the opportunity to achieve their potential.

“Imagine just in your own life a sibling or a child of yours, you said, ‘Go out and accomplish everything you can in life but do so – you can’t get driver’s license, you’re not going to be able to fly on a plane, and every time you switch jobs, you have to worry somebody will arrest you.’ That kind of depresses the kind of job and the productivity you could have as a worker.

“When in ’86 those restrictions were removed for about 3 million people around the country through the amnesty program, the wages of those people jumped 15%. Okay? They didn’t get smarter or harder-working. They didn’t have these shackles put on them by the fear of living in the shadows.”

Reason #2: Low-skilled immigrants and children of low-skilled immigrants do move up and contribute to the U.S. economy.

“We didn’t ask people to have Ph.D.s when they came over the last 300 years and a lot of people came with raw talent and moved up. And so we do immigration and upward mobility both…

“And when we think about dynamic economics, low-skilled workers have children and grandchildren that may not continue to be sugar cane cutters; they may be Senators…or they might become successful…

“…The Chinese who came over to build the railroads didn’t stay in the railroad building business. And the Japanese who came over to be sugar cane cutters and the like didn’t stay as sugar cane cutters as they’ve moved forward and future generations did better.”

Reason #3: Without immigration reform, the U.S. will lose its competitive edge to other countries that are able to attract educated and highly-skilled immigrants and increase the pressure of U.S. firms to outsource to other countries with highly-skilled labor force.

“…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 [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] 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?”

“They will compete by moving to Canada and compete from there. I mean, Microsoft has people they hire and they put in Canada because they can’t get them across the border here. So they pay taxes in Canada and make the Canadian economy stronger and they have to put up with all that snow. Or they stay in India or they stay in Russia or they stay in somewhere else and compete with us. In a worldwide, everybody competes with everybody. I mean, the idea that when they come over here somehow they compete more than where they were works before planes and Internet and more mobility.”

“…Other countries can move ahead of us both in how they deal with immigration but we have some time but not an endless amount of time. And we could end up in a situation where people are perfectly happy to show up in Canada and Australia and Singapore.”

Reason #4: Unauthorized immigrants already pay some taxes but more of their earnings will be subject to taxes if they are given legal status.

“Undocumented workers have been paying taxes for some time. They pay sales taxes. How do you get away from that? They pay property taxes. And they show up with a Social Security number, they pay into Social Security but they’re not going to get out. They pay into income taxes as well. So there is some weird sense that somehow these people are not paying taxes; they pay all the interesting taxes that we run into on any given day without the deductions.”

Reason #5: Deporting 11 million unauthorized immigrants is extremely costly and will significantly shrink the U.S. economy (GDP).

“…One of the studies I quoted in the Judiciary Committee testimony was “What if you went and spent the money to grab everybody and put them across the border?” – the cost there. And that was a rather significant, not only a huge cost to finding people, grabbing them, and throwing them across the border in terms of dollar amounts – and it’s hundreds of billions of dollars to do that if we wanted to – but then the lost productivity was estimated to reduce GDP significantly in the trillions of dollars.”

“[Immigrants] consume goods and services just like the rest of us, increasing demand that in turn incentivize businesses to increase production. When immigrants abandon areas, we see the collapse of local economies.”

“[After Arizona passed its anti-immigration law SB 1070,] 200,000 people who were working have left. The value of the housing in Arizona has fallen more rapidly than neighboring states. So we’re comparing apples and apples. The only state that’s had a worse catastrophe was Nevada in terms of dropping home values. And those jobs weren’t picked up by somebody else, meaning that the unemployment in those sectors where people without papers congregated, so that suggested they weren’t displacing some guy and when they left the person who’d been displaced showed up and said, ‘Can I have my job back?’ That’s not what happened.”

“So if you’re not going to reform immigration policy and allow earned legal status for people who are here undocumented, what are you going to do? Continue this status quo? In which case, any cost you see now continue in the future. Or if you’re going to actually grab people and throw them across the border and they’re not here and theoretically not being replaced, there’s a dramatic drop to GDP.”

Reason #6: Having a steady inflow of immigrants will help the U.S. stabilize its population decline and keep the workforce age younger than most European countries and China.

“Sometimes, people do say, you know, our national defense and our strength in the world is based on our economy, which is true. But that’s also based an awful lot on the workforce. The size of the workforce, the quality of the workforce, and the age of the workforce.”

“America’s status as the leader of the free world is dependent on its economic prowess. And its strong economy depends on a vibrant, productive, and growing labor force. As native birth rates have fallen below replacement levels, we rely on an infusion of foreign-born workers to supplement our workforce and allow our economy to continue to grow.”

“[Immigration reform] would be very helpful for the United States’ economy, and we can leave the rest of the world in the dust.”

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