The New York Sun, in an editorial on Dave Brat's victory over Eric Cantor in a Republican primary for a congressional seat in Virginia, writes, "How in the world can Congress address the immigration question before it addresses the lack of economic growth?"
I love the Sun and its editorials and its editor, and the newspaper is a paying customer of my column, so this is a friendly reply, but to my mind that sentence of the editorial misses the point. The lack of economic growth is being caused, directly, by the lack of immigrants. So rather than taking the approach the Sun seems to be recommending, which is to say, "let's tackle economic growth, and once we get the economy roaring, then later we can get around to bothering with those pesky contentious issues such as immigration" — the approach I would favor instead would be to say something like, "One of the easiest and best ways to fix the economic growth problem here in America right now is to let in more immigrants. They are customers for our businesses, employees for our stores, farms, and restaurants, programmers for our technology businesses, doctors for our hospitals, tuition-paying parents for our colleges and universities, soldiers for our army and sailors for our navy. They are human capital, and rather than slamming the gates shut on them, we should welcome them in immediately and then sit back and watch the economy boom in response."
The Sun's error has an unhappy history. As John Higham notes in his history of American nativism, Strangers in the Land, the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924, which included an Oriental Exclusion Act banning Chinese immigrants to America, had its origins in the economic depression of 1920-1921, a downturn that itself followed the Immigration Act of 1917, which imposed its own restrictions. The Johnson-Reed Act's restrictions kicked in fully in 1927, after a delay sufficient to allow the government bureaucrats to plan for its implementation (sound like ObamaCare?), and just in time both to trigger the Great Depression and to prevent European Jewry from escaping the onslaught of Nazism.
(Update: The Sun has graciously corrected the editorial.)