With our admittedly biased opinion, we often write (and talk to presidential candidates) about how immigrants help drive the nation’s economy. Unfortunately, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the current administration has used the pandemic as an excuse to further its own immigration policies – slamming the door on highly skilled foreign workers. If the president wins reelection, these policies may stunningly outlast the pandemic. Economists fear this effect could further slow the U.S. economic recovery and reduce the U.S.’ competitiveness.
In January 2020, the U.S. issued more than 61,000 skilled worker visas. That number fell to 494 in April 2020, and has continued to remain low. Major U.S. cities rely on immigrants to help drive local economies. For example, immigrants contribute $232 billion to New York City’s GDP and own more than half of its businesses. However, the city has already seen a reduction in the number of immigrant residents over the last four years.
If these tough, restrictive immigration policies continue, we can expect to see similar declines in major cities across the United States. Such decline will not help our cities nor our national economy truly bounce back and thrive. It is critical that we do not continue to limit or deter skilled immigrants from coming to the U.S. In order to welcome them back, we will need new policies that once again welcome the best and brightest from around the world.