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Editorial: Crackdown on immigrants could shake up N.J.


Much of the outcry against President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigration has centered on the legal and moral ramifications. But there are economic ramifications, too — especially in New Jersey. And these ramifications go well beyond the (well-founded) concerns about losing the many undocumented workers who cut America's lawns, cook in our restaurants and perform dozens of other entry-level, low-paying jobs.

Trump plans to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who will target millions of people in the United States for deportation. Under the new policy, even minor crimes will be grounds for deportation. The crackdown has sparked widespread fear among undocumented immigrants, many of whom have been working and raising families in this country for decades. But the nationalist, xenophobic rhetoric accompanying this policy also will inevitably spark fear among legal immigrants. And that could be an especially big problem in New Jersey.

Study: State ranks second in U.S. in overall positive economic impact of its foreign-born residents.

According to a new study by the personal-finance website WalletHub, New Jersey ranks second in the nation (after California) in the overall positive economic impact of foreign-born residents. WalletHub studied 18 indicators — things such as the median household income of immigrants and the jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses — to come up with its rankings. Not only was New Jersey ranked second overall, but it tied for first in its percentage of foreign-born STEM workers, was No. 2 in the percentage of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses and No. 3 in the median household income of its foreign-born population.

These high-performing, well-paid and often highly educated immigrants play a crucial role in the state’s economy, particularly in the science, tech, medical and academic sectors. And remember: These are people who can work anywhere in the world and have chosen to work in the United States and New Jersey.

These are legal immigrants — citizens, people with green cards or people with work visas. And admittedly, Trump’s crackdown focuses on people who are in the country illegally. But even legal immigrants cannot help but be scared by this new reality in the United States. And they are likely to respond by taking their talents elsewhere, cutting off the United States — and New Jersey — from a huge pool of needed talent. This is why so many CEOs in technical fields have opposed Trump’s crackdown. And the WalletHub study makes clear that New Jersey, especially, will pay a steep price.

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