An open letter on immigration policy was sent to President Trump and congressional leadership by 1,470 economists on April 12. I rarely sign open letters, however, in this case I felt compelled to sign because recent policy and political rhetoric surrounding immigration has strayed so far from sound social science and the general principles outlined in the letter.
I do not like arguments from authority. That’s one reason why I typically do not sign open letters by economists. It’s also one reason why I tell my students they can call me by my first name rather than “professor” or “doctor.” But experts do possess some authority by nature of their expertise. When a wide ideological cross-section of experts on a topic all agree that political discourse is at odds with good science, it is a strong sign that politicians should pause and reconsider.
The broad consensus that “the benefits that immigration brings to society far outweigh their costs” is reflected in the open letter. Some signatories are Republicans, some Democrats, and others are unaffiliated and even unregistered to vote, like me. Regardless of ideological leaning, economists largely agree that immigration, like international trade in goods and services, makes the native-born population wealthier.
We do not deny that immigration imposes costs on the native-born population, and in particular, those with lower levels of education. Rather, the signatories maintain that “smart immigration policy could better maximize the benefits of immigration, while reducing the costs.”
If you asked all 1,470…