ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:
While Democrats and Republicans trade jabs over how to more quickly stimulate job growth, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today said both parties are overlooking “the one thing” that can do the trick: encouraging more legal immigration to the United States.
“It’s what I call national suicide – and that’s not hyperbole,” Bloomberg told a symposium at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Every day that we fail to fix our broken immigration laws is a day that we inflict a wound on our economy.”
Bloomberg cited a new report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, an advocacy group he founded jointly with News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, that found more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or a child of immigrants and now employ more than 10 million people worldwide.
“Immigrants and their children have been responsible for creating millions more jobs in all 50 states,” he said. “The reason is simple: immigrants are dreamers and risk-takers who are driven to succeed, because they know that in America, hard work and talent are rewarded like nowhere else.”
Bloomberg said the “single most powerful step” to spur job growth is enacting a five-point bipartisan reform that would allow foreign graduates of U.S. universities to obtain green cards; lure foreign entrepreneurs to innovate on American soil; end caps on to visas for highly-skilled workers; ensure an abundant supply of agricultural guest-workers; and set green card limits based on the country’s economic needs, not an immigrant’s family ties.
Critics of looser immigration restrictions, and a path to legal residency for the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, say Bloomberg’s proposals would take jobs from American workers and make the economic environment worse.
“We already have a system that allows 8 million foreign workers to hold jobs that millions of Americans who are unemployed would like to have. That’s a broken system,” said Roy Beck, president of Numbers USA, a group that favors tighter immigration restrictions.
“It’s not going to go anywhere because it makes no political sense,” Beck said of comprehensive immigration reform. “Some people do not get that immigration is a jobs issue.”
Bloomberg disputed those arguments, insisting there is a way to address immigration – even in an election year – that will appeal to voters in both parties.
“The public cares about two things: housing and jobs. My house, my job,” he said. “And if you want to do something in this country to create jobs, better jobs and more jobs, and a better chance to keep your houses, the one thing we can do is not expensive for this country, it’s not a big stimulus of trillions of dollars, it is immigration reform.”
“That will get the best and the brightest from around the world, those that are the hungriest and willing to work the hardest to come here and create exactly what we need,” Bloomberg added.