JAMIE DIMON: Immigration reform is 'tearing apart' U.S. society and holding back the economy

Markets Reporter
Yahoo Finance

JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon is worried about the immigration debate in America.

“We need to resolve immigration,” Dimon writes in his latest letter to shareholders published Thursday, “it is tearing apart our body politic and damaging our economy.”

“Immigration reform is important both morally and economically,” Dimon writes. “Immigration has been a critical part of America’s economic and cultural vitality.”

In his letter to shareholders, Dimon dedicates 19 pages to a discussion of public policy in the United States, keeping with his theme of speaking more broadly in recent years about where the economy and society fail some of America’s most vulnerable citizens.

“The United States needs to ensure that we maintain a healthy and vibrant economy,” Dimon writes. “This is what fuels job creation, raises the standard of living and creates opportunity for those who are hurting, while positioning us to invest in education, technology and infrastructure — in a programmatic and sustainable way — to build a better and safer future for our country and its people.”

And when it comes to immigration, Dimon sees a political debate that holds back the economic potential of the country and ignores some principles he says “most Americans” agree on.

Dimon writes that if the public does not believe the U.S. has proper border control, then “nothing else” can be accomplished on the immigration front. On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said President Donald Trump would sign an order sending the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. 

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s latest letter to shareholders address immigration reform, trade policy, and the broader state of public policy in the United States.
JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon’s latest letter to shareholders address immigration reform, trade policy, and the broader state of public policy in the United States.

Dimon also believe “Dreamers” — or children brought to the U.S. illegally — should be offered a path to citizenship and that foreigners who earn advanced degrees in the U.S. “should receive a green card along with their diploma.” Trump last year ended a program that offered protection to people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, but gave Congress six months to pass new legislation.

And when it comes to retaining foreign talent, Dimon thinks our immigration policies fail our institutions of higher education. “Forty percent of foreign students who receive advanced degrees in science, technology and math (300,000 students annually) have no legal way of staying here, although many would choose to do so,” Dimon writes.

“Most students from countries outside the United States pay full freight to attend our universities but many are forced to take the training back home. From my vantage point, that means one of our largest exports is brainpower… We need these skilled individuals in America.”

To Dimon, immigration reform is also a way to reinforce to a new crop of American citizens “who we are as a people.”

“America was an idea borne of freedom, with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise, and equality and opportunity,” Dimon writes.

“People immigrating to this country should be taught American history, our language and our principles. The American public will not be pro-immigration if we don’t address these issues.”

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Myles Udland is a writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @MylesUdland

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