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Migrants Vital to U.S. Growth, Sustainability

February 13, 2012 (1 min read)

"Boosting GDP and keeping Social Security solvent depend on the economic activity of migrants—as workers, consumers, and taxpayers; and, the United States should do more to regularize both high-tech professionals and other workers, panelists said at the latest installment of The Wilson Center’s National Conversation series, held at the University of Miami February 6.

“For the U.S. economy to grow, it needs growth in the working-age population. In the near-term, this growth will be supplied by immigrants as the native-born alone cannot achieve it,” said former Secretary of Commerce and Wilson Center board member and trustee Carlos Gutierrez. “Immigrants push the economy and they push jobs.”

Gutierrez spoke at Still A Nation of Immigrants?: How Immigration Is Shaping America in the 21st Century, alongside Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security; Antonia Hernández, president and CEO, California Community Foundation; and, Andrés Oppenheimer, columnist, Miami Herald. Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, former Special Envoy to the Americas, served as moderator.

While the general population ages, migrants refresh the workforce, and because they are more likely to be of working-age, they contribute more in taxes and withholding than they draw in government services, Medicare, and Social Security, Hernández said. “They are putting more into the Social Security system than they are getting out of it because they are not applying for benefits,” she said." - Wilson Center, Feb. 6, 2012.