Immigration and Economic Growth

by | Jun 14, 2014

Immigration is not a cause of economic growth. It’s primarily a byproduct.

Vice President Joseph Biden said that the United States needs a “constant, unrelenting stream” of new immigrants, “not dribbling [but] significant flows,” to strengthen the economy, The Hill reported.

In remarks to the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, Biden said that American exceptionalism positions the country to integrate immigrants who would help to grow the economy, according to The Daily Caller.

“We need it badly from a purely – purely economic point of view,” Biden said, according to the Hill.

He also urged passage of immigration reform, according to his Twitter feed. [reported at 6/12/14]

Actually, immigration is not a cause of economic growth. It’s primarily a byproduct.

The reason people wish to enter a free society is to have a better life. The single biggest reason is usually economic opportunity. The U.S. is economically far superior to Mexico, or other countries where immigrants originate.

When a thriving economy has a huge welfare-entitlement state, it stands to reason that some immigrants will come with this motivation, as well. I suspect this isn’t what drives most immigrants here. But once they’re here and they find economic opportunity less than ideal in the United States, with free education, free food stamps and free health care more prevalent than ever before, many will start to rest on their laurels — by default, if nothing else — even if it wasn’t their original intention.

You cannot evade these facts in order to claim, “More immigrants must be allowed in as quickly as possible, so our economy will grow.” Immigration is actually good for an economy. Rationally open borders allow the best and brightest from other lands to enter and contribute (on their own behalf) to the growth of a sophisticated, advanced civilization.

But increasingly, America is stumbling under the weight of massive national debt, increasing taxes and regulations which stymie productivity and prosperity, and general “malaise” arising from business owners constantly living under the threat of a taxing, regulating government. Immigration will not resolve these problems, and could arguably make them worse. Liberalization of the economy is what’s needed first. Not the wimpy pseudo-liberalization of the economy Republicans claim to want, but the real deal, across the board.

One can’t help but comment that Vice President Biden leads an administration committed most forcefully to the very things which hamper economic growth and foster the kind of immigrants we don’t want to have — i.e., those who will be content to live off the earnings of others via “free” goods and services. Biden claims he cares about economic growth, but only when it comes to immigrants; not when it comes to getting the government off the breaking back of the private sector. Could it be that his motives involve more recipients of welfare state benefits, which in turn will increase the power of his own party’s political interests? It’s a fair question. Because if economic growth were truly his primary motive, you’d see this motive in evidence other than on immigration.

Immigration should not be a partisan or divisive issue. Everyone who wants economic growth should want immigration. It logically follows. At the same time, everyone who wants immigration should be in favor of the conditions required to foster it. Unhampered, totally free market capitalism is what transformed America from a rural wilderness into the most prosperous land in human history, all in nothing short of a century. America’s first immigrants benefited tremendously from this social system, with virtually no transfer-of-wealth state to distract or tempt them.

If it’s economic growth you really want, then of course you want immigrants. But you also want the things that make immigration a worthwhile goal in the first place: self-responsibility, economic incentives and the ability to keep what you earn once you earn it.

My proposal? No government aid whatsoever for new immigrants or current illegal aliens. Phase it out for those who already have it. Massively reduce taxes, massively reduce regulations, and let America become a free marketplace again. (As for voluntary charity, it will never be against the law.) We will desperately need immigrants in this context; and rest assured we’ll get the best ones we’ve ever seen.

Nobody, of course, has the courage to propose this. The hysterical outrage from Joe Biden — the man who called opponents of Obamacare “terrorists” — would be deafening. This tells you all you need to know about the real reason people like Obama and Biden want immigration “reform.” It’s not about freedom, and it’s not about economic growth. It’s about fostering dependence and attaining power.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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