Former President Bill Clinton, speaking this afternoon at a State Budget Crisis Task Force forum at the National Constitution Center, said "we all have a stake in the passage" of immigration reform legislation currently being debated in the U.S. Senate. One big selling factor, Clinton said, is that the push will keep America's population younger than other countries.
"I think it will increase the number of taxpayers and the rate of economic growth in virtually every state in the country," Clinton said. "I say that because its a budget externality that we don't think about a lot. But if you look all over the world, demographics is destiny. And, having lost it, I can tell you that youth matters."
Clinton, 66, let the crowd chuckle at his joke but then noted that the U.S. population is younger than Europe and Japan and will be younger in 20 years than China if that country does not shift it's "one-child" birth regulation and immigration policy.
"We are big enough and I hope smart enough in the management of our resources to handle continued population growth," said Clinton.
The former president, however, questioned the portion of the bipartisan legislation that spends $25 billion to increase the U.S. Border Patrol to 40,000 agents and completes a 700-mile fence on the border with Mexico, "when we've finished two years where there was no net in-migration from Mexico. None. Zero. None."
The Pew Research Hispanic Center last year found that the four-decade-long wave of migration from Mexico to America had come to a standstill and perhaps had even started to reverse.
Clinton said Mexico is experiencing "economic growth and declining inequality."
"They're doing much better than 90 percent of the American people have any idea that they're doing," Clinton said. "And we're going to be very glad that we have trade and other types of partnerships with them."