Is immigration reform the answer to a stronger economy? The Bush Institute says yes

Jim Avila, Richard Coolidge, and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
Is immigration reform the answer to a stronger economy? The Bush Institute says yes

Power Players

Members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives recently threatened to reject the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the George W. Bush Institute is making the case that reform is in line with Republican philosophy and good for the U.S. economy.

Jim Glassman, the executive director of the Bush Institute, tells Power Players that immigration reform will promote economic growth, saying, “The engine for growth for the U.S. has been immigrants.”

“President Bush himself, Jeb Bush, President Bush's father, George H. W. Bush … they've been dedicated to having a sensible immigration policy for decades now,” Glassman says. “And as far as conservatives in general, you know, most conservatives want growth.”

President George W. Bush attempted to offer a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants with a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2006, but the effort failed because the House and Senate couldn’t consolidate their unique versions of the bill.

The Bush Institute, along with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, recently published a study making the case that immigration reform will accelerate economic growth.

“The evidence is very clear that immigrants come here with one purpose, largely, and that's to work,” says Bush Institute research fellow Matthew Denhart, whose research is published in the study, "Growth and Immigration: A Handbook of Vital Immigration and Economic Growth Statistics."

“You have to imagine someone who is going to leave their home country, travel across oceans or across borders and take risks,” he said. “When they land in that new country, you can expect they're going to do something pretty remarkable, and the numbers bear that out.”

Javier Palomarez, the president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, points out that “40 percent of the Fortune 500 institutions were started by an immigrant.”

“Immigrants have helped this country,” Palomarez says. “Corporations like AT&T, Bank of America, eBay, Google, Intel, Kohl's Department stores and Yahoo!, and I could go on - they were all started by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.”

In addition to those immigrants who have made major entrepreneurial contributions, Palomarez says that the economy is also reliant on lower-skilled labor provided by many immigrants.

“The reality of it is the nation needs it,” Palmorez says of the immigrant labor force. “The agricultural bounty that we enjoy in the United States and the amazingly low prices that we pay when compared to other nations is due, in part, to the fact that we have some of the best skilled laborers working in the very fields that, frankly, are often-time immigrants.”

For more of the interview with the sponsors of the Bush Institute study, and to hear Glassman’s personal family story of immigrant success, check out this episode of Power Players.

ABC's Serena Marshall, Alexandra Dukakis, Eric Wray, Dick Norling, and Vickie Vennell contributed to this episode.