Trump’s Chief Economist Says We Need More Immigrant Workers, Not Less

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Following the terror attack in New York City on Tuesday, President Donald Trump is renewing calls for a merit-based immigration system that would favor those with a higher education or specific skills over those picked via random selection or who have family members living in the U.S.

“We want to immediately work with Congress on the diversity lottery program, on terminating it, getting rid of it,” he said at a press conference Wednesday. “We want a merit-based program where people come into our country based on merit.”

Trump backs a bill sponsored by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that would scrap the diversity lottery and dramatically reduce the number of visas available to family members of legal residents. Such moves would cut the number of green cards given out each year by roughly half. The remaining employer-based green cards would then be given out based on a point system that heavily favors highly skilled, highly educated, English-speaking immigrants.

But while the concept of immigration solely based on an applicant’s resume has the support of conservatives in Congress, the proposal also has skeptics — even within Trump’s administration.
Trump’s top economic adviser, Kevin Hassett, has long maintained that the U.S. should embrace more immigrant workers, not fewer.

While a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in 2013, Hassett wrote that the U.S. could add half a percentage point to economic growth by doubling the number of immigrants it lets into the country, especially if they come on employer-sponsored visas.

“Perhaps surprisingly for a country that has long thought of itself as a nation of immigrants, the U.S. falls far behind almost all the other countries in the number of immigrants it admitted in 2010 relative to its population size,” Hassett wrote.

Hassett, who is now the chair of Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, reiterated that position just last week in testimony before the Joint Economic Committee.

By Lydia DePillis for CNN MONEY
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