Letter: Immigration policy reform necessary

Our American colleges and universities have a proud tradition of educating the world’s best and brightest. Parents from all over the world send their kids here for their education. Guess what happens after they graduate? Our broken immigration system gives them six months to get out of our country.

Many of them would like to stay; my son’s fiancée (a recently graduated doctor of chiropractic) is a prime example. Woefully outdated, U.S. immigration law prevents millions from legally entering our economy.

Immigrants account for a sizeable share of South Dakota’s population and economy. They make up 2.7 percent of our state’s population, and about one-third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. South Dakota’s immigrants hold $846 million in consumer purchasing power, and their businesses had sales of $521.2 million while employing more than 4,000 workers.

Remarkably, if all unauthorized immigrants were removed from South Dakota, our state would lose $190.5 million in economic activity, $84.6 million in gross state product and approximately 1,440 jobs. The sales tax on everything they purchase supports our state and local communities. Most are having payroll deductions that go into a Social Security system from which they will never collect. We would be foolish to disaffect such an important part of our state and national economy.

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About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…