Experts: Best reason for immigration reform is economic

Set aside any moral imperatives, political experts told an audience Thursday at the University of Pennsylvania: The strongest argument for immigration reform is financial.

“America is in a global battle” for capital and labor “to grow our economy,” said former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former head of the Republican National Committee.

If we educate immigrants at our universities but don’t make it possible for them to stay in America, he said, the businesses they start, often with hundreds of jobs, “end up in Mumbai” instead of Memphis.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, cited a special visa program for immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. enterprises with having provided “40 to 50 percent” of the capital “that kept Pennsylvania’s government going” during the darkest days of the last recession.