About the Event

A common refrain is that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants—that the spirit of America directly stems from the fact that most Americans have ancestors who are immigrants. We’re called a melting pot, where people come to achieve the “American Dream,” to settle their families, to work and start their businesses. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their children, including nearly two-thirds of U.S. “unicorns” (billion-dollar companies).

However, in the United States today, foreign entrepreneurs seeking to work or start businesses are left without a viable path to do so, and bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. is problematic in today’s challenging economy because securing foreign-born low and unskilled workers is so difficult.

At the same time, many Americans express concern over the impact of immigration on the domestic labor market. The current immigration system is also problematic from an efficiency standpoint, as wait times for legal immigration grow longer year by year.

The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia and Independence National Historical Park hosted a panel of speakers who provided insight into the role of immigration in the American economy and ways policymakers can balance the needs and expectations of companies, voters, and immigrants.

About the Moderator

About the Speakers

  • David Bier, Associate Director of Immigration Studies, CATO Institute
  • Kent Smetters, Boettner Professor, Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, Wharton School and Faculty Director, The Penn Wharton Budget Model, University of Pennsylvania

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