How The Plan To Cut Immigration In Half Could Hurt Kentucky's Economy

Aug 14, 2017

Woman listens to a speech at World Refugee Day.
Credit Becca Schimmel

President Trump’s call to cut legal immigration by half over ten years would have a significant impact on Kentucky’s economy. Immigrants and refugees in Kentucky are more likely to start their own business than native born Kentuckians.

Trump said the U.S. has a history of taking in too many low-skilled workers from other countries. Anna Baumann, with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a left leaning research institute, said a lot of skilled labor in Kentucky actually comes from immigration. Baumann noted one of every twenty immigrants in Kentucky is a small business owner.

“It would affect the economy by limiting that skilled labor that’s coming in. By limiting those business owners who are coming in. Immigrants and refugees have a higher rate of business ownership than native born Kentuckians,” Baumann said.  

Baumann said immigrants and refugees contribute to Kentucky’s economy by paying taxes, and by participating in the labor force and in their communities. She added one in thirty three Kentuckians are immigrants.

“Do we understand the full extent of the economic contributions that immigrants make in Kentucky? And I don’t think we do and I think it comes across as uninformed about those contributions and unwelcoming,” Baumann said.  

Trump’s administration wants to give preference to refugees and immigrants with English language skills and higher levels of education or job skills. Baumann said a lot of skilled labor in Kentucky comes from immigration. She said cutting immigration in half over time will hurt the state’s economy by reducing the amount of taxes paid by immigrants.