Today, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan was invited to speak before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on the nation’s economic future. During his testimony, Greenspan indicated that an increase in legal immigration, from an economic point of view, is imperative to “growing the economic pie” and that ramped-up deportations could spell economic suicide:
LIEBERMAN: Forget all the politics of this — if we had a significant increase in America of legal immigration that would be one way to grow the economic pie?
GREENSPAN: It would be. … We have a very large number of immigrants who are high school or less educated, a significant part of whom are illegal. And then we have a remarkably large number of Ph.D.’s and better who have come to this country and contributed immensely to our economic success. I argue that both groups are affecting the economy in a positive way. If we try to send all our illegals home…speaking as an economist, I will tell you, we would have a very serious problem. There are 12 million of them.
LIEBERMAN: I am not suggesting we increase legal immigration as a way to deal with the national debt. But it does have those positive economic implications.
GREENSPAN: Oh it certainly does, Mr. Chairman.
Greenspan may not be a very popular amongst his colleagues these days, but he appears to have found something that he and other reputable economists can agree on. Earlier this year, Tom Freidman wrote, “When the best brains in the world are on sale, you don’t shut them out. You open your doors wider. We need to attack this financial crisis with green cards not just greenbacks.” Current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has indicated that in order to overcome the effects of an aging population, immigration would have to rise to 3.5 million people annually. The Center for American Progress has estimated that mass deportations could cost the U.S. up to $230 billion or more.