Students, professors and community members gather in Horn Auditorium for Benjamin Powell's lecture. Photo by Ali Davis

Students, professors and community members gather in Horn Auditorium for Benjamin Powell’s lecture. Photo by Ali Davis.

By Hannah Esrock–

Economist and author Benjamin Powell visited U of L’s College of Business Feb. 17 to give a lecture on the topic he has been dedicated to for over a decade: the economics of immigration.

As a currently touchy subject, students found his fresh economic point of view on the topic interesting. One of the biggest issues Americans have with letting immigrants into our country is the misconception they are bringing down our economy and are taking away our jobs.

Over 600 million people in the world wish to live somewhere other than their native land and 100 million of those people wish to live in the United States. If we were to let even a percentage of these people into our country, our country’s GDP would increase by 50-150 percent, according to Powell.

Powell also said letting them in would help the job market. When immigrants come to our country and take on jobs they held in their country, they make from one-and-a-half to ten times more money for the same job. Americans can move up the career ladder to jobs we are better suited for, Powell said.

“When we add more people into the work force, we create new jobs for them to go to,” Powell said. “They create more value for us in society elsewhere. Immigration is not about changing the total number of jobs. It’s about switching the mix of jobs.”

According to Powell, the United States needs to optimize immigration policy and use it to our advantage. His solution was to have purchasable permits to enter our country. Our country could profit in multiple ways: an increase in economy, increase in jobs and an increase in the United States pocket change.