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Expert: "Change Happens From The Ground Up"

December 22, 2022 (1 min read)

Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch, Dec. 22, 2022

"Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell showed last week that he’s thinking about how recent lower immigration has factored into the ongoing U.S. labor shortage, but he said it’s not appropriate for the Fed to call for increased legal immigration to help alleviate the shortage. Could his remarks, careful as they were, somehow move the needle on immigration policy? His comments came as one new bipartisan proposal for immigration reform flopped in Congress, and some analysts say they aren’t optimistic about progress on immigration next year in a divided Washington. Still, others see Powell’s remarks having a small effect. ... Powell’s answer could be seen as part of a slow process that eventually results in long-awaited fixes to the U.S. immigration system, according to Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School. “To me, it’s like water dripping on a rock,” Yale-Loehr told MarketWatch in an interview. “A single drop of water, whether it’s from Fed Chairman Powell or somebody else, won’t make a difference by itself. But if enough drips of water from other people and other studies consistently show that immigration can help our labor shortages and improve our economy, then I hope that will move the needle so that Congress will seriously take up immigration reform in 2023.” ... The Cornell professor also suggested that grassroots efforts eventually might end up spurring U.S. lawmakers to do more. “A lot of change happens from the ground up, rather than the top down — if you think about civil-rights legislation in the 60s, the Environmental Protection Act of 1970, the antiwar efforts,” he said. “It was because people really protested the existing framework that they forced Congress to make changes in those areas. And so too, I think that if more Americans stood up and said, ‘We need immigration reform,’ I think that that would help persuade Congress to actually put pen to paper and make some significant changes.”"