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1,470 economists urge Trump to support immigration

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Border Patrol agents detain a group of undocumented immigrants near the US-Mexico border near La Grulla, Texas, March 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Nearly 1,500 economists have advised US President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders about the economic benefits of immigration, saying in a letter that immigrants are more of an “opportunity” than a “threat.”

The letter sent Wednesday by 1,470 economists said that “the benefits that immigration brings to society far outweigh their costs, and smart immigration policy could better maximize the benefits of immigration while reducing the costs.”

“Immigration is one of America's significant competitive advantages in the global economy,” read the letter. “With the proper and necessary safeguards in place, immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers.”

Entrepreneurs who set up businesses, young workers who replace retiring Baby Boomers-- people who are between 53 and 71 years old—and workers with diverse skill sets to keep American companies competitive and innovative were some of the contributions that the economists said immigrants make to the US economy.

Acknowledging that immigration comes at the expense of Americans with lower levels of education, the economists insisted that the benefits still dwarfed the costs.

“We urge Congress to modernize our immigration system in a way that maximizes the opportunity immigration can bring, and reaffirms continuing the rich history of welcoming immigrants to the United States,” they wrote.

An indigenous man leans on the metal fence along the border between the Altar desert in Mexico and the Arizona desert in the United States, in Sonora, northern Mexico, March 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Six Noble laureates undersigned the letter. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, of the former President George H.W. Bush’s administration, and Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of former President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers were also among the signatories.

"Immigration is not just a good thing, it's a necessity,” said Eakin, who chairs the American Action Forum think tank now.

“You should have a visa system that recognizes market shortages and allows those skills to enter the United States,” he further argued.

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Trump has pledged to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and keep Latin American immigrants from illegally entering the country by making a wall on the border with Mexico.

He has also threatened so-called “sanctuary states” with cutting funds in case they do not step up their anti-immigration measures.

However, his most controversial anti-immigration plan so far has been an ill-fated travel ban against the citizens of several Muslim countries. He has signed two executive orders in this regard but both were brought to a halt by federal judges.

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