Ex-Labor Secretary Suggests New Immigration Advisory Committee Be Created

By Janie Amaya, Adrianna McGinley and Andrea Salazar

Former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall suggested Monday at the Economic Policy Institute that a new, permanent and high-level government position be created to oversee immigration in the United States.

Economic analysts joined Marshall for the release of his new book, “Value-Added Immigration: Lessons for the United States from Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom,” a study comparing the successes and failures of the immigration policies in each country.

Marshall said that the success of the United Kingdom’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in collecting data to determine the country’s need for migrant workers is an idea that should be introduced and implemented in the U.S.

“The [Department of Homeland Security] looks at this problem as a law enforcement problem,” Marshall said. “[But] the Labor Secretary sees it as a labor market problem, [and] it would be fairly easy…to have these systems so that they could communicate with each other.”

Ron Hira, associate professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, said that the lack of data collection in the United States on the effects of immigration on the labor market is a leading factor in policy uncertainties.

“We haven’t built up any analytical capability in immigration, and in many cases we aren’t even collecting data that would inform policy choices,” Hira said. “Analysis isn’t a panacea, but the lack of it contributes to the stalemated positions on immigration policy.”

Like in a business, Marshall acknowledged that the importance of collecting data to measure the economic impact of immigration rather than focusing solely on the enforcement of such policies would improve the effectiveness of future comprehensive immigration policies.

“Immigration is a part of overall economic and social policy in these countries,” Marshall said. “They strive to see to it that the workers they import are complementary to the domestic workers and not competitive with them.”

Originally for Talk Radio News Service.

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