Former President Bill Clinton enthusiastically weighed into the blistering national debate on immigration today with a resounding assertion that America needs more immigrants -- not fewer -- to ensure its long-term fiscal future.
At a symposium on deficit reduction today (see my earlier story), Clinton said that one key to avoiding massive debt is to maintain a good ratio between people paying into the system, and those receiving payouts (through such programs as Social Security.)
That means more jobs and more people working, he said. "Which to me means more immigrants."
Clinton said he supports immigration reform as proposed by President Obama or as supported by Sen. John McCain before he changed his mind.
Clinton spoke glowingly of the immigrant experience in the United States. "We've got somebody from everywhere here, and they do well," he said.
And looking at the overall budget numbers, comparing money in to money out, "I don't think there's any alternative for us but increasing immigration," he said. "I just don't see any palatable way out of this unless that's part of the strategy."
Clinton didn't mention it, but it's not just legal immigrants who contribute to the plus side of the Treasury's balance sheet. In fact, undocumented immigrants are even more lucrative for the government, particularly Social Security. Many undocumented workers have payroll taxes automatically withheld from their wages, but because they use fake numbers, never collect the benefits.