In a letter sent to President Donald Trump and top leaders in Congress on Wednesday, close to 1,500 economists outlined the benefits brought into the U.S. economy by immigrants and urged the U.S. Congress to modernize the immigration system in the country.

The letter stated that immigration was one of the significant competitive advantages the U.S. had in today’s global economy. With the necessary and proper safeguards set up immigration represents a huge opportunity instead of a threat to the economy and to workers in the U.S.

Amongst the benefits for the economy that immigration brings are many entrepreneurs who open businesses, young workers that replace the retiring Baby Boomers and people that have sets of diverse skills that keep companies in the U.S. competitive as well as innovative in fields of high-growth such as STEM, stated the letter.

Tuesday’s letter had been signed by economists from across the entire economic spectrum, and included Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who served under former President George Bush, as well as Austan Goolsbee, a former chair of the Council of Economic Advisors for President Obama. The group included six economists who were Nobel laureates.

Eakin said that immigration was not only a good thing, but a necessity.

Last month, 285 economists from major corporations in the U.S. were surveyed by the National Association of Business Economics. The survey found that a distinct majority thought that the restrictive stance of President Trump related to immigration was a mistake.

The economists favored immigration policies that are more relaxed that they believe will help increase the economy and noted that a fix of the H-1B visa program is more important than the deporting of undocumented immigrants.

Earlier in 2017, Trump said he preferred moving away from an immigration system that was family based toward one that was merit based, like that of Australia or Canada, which gives a preference to immigrants with skills and education.

However, systems that are merit-based also allow typically for some family reunification.

Eakin added that immigration reform needs to include reunification of families along with visas for both low-skilled and high-skilled workers.

They all do not have to be workers in the area of STEM, markets reward skills with value and today, running machine tools is considered a skilled trade.

Eakin said there should be a visa system which recognizes the market shortages and allows for those with skills to fill that shortage into the U.S.

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