Fed's Kashkari Joins Immigration Debate Before Possible Shutdown

(Bloomberg) -- Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari threw himself into the immigration debate just as the controversy threatens to cause the first U.S. government shutdown in over four years.

In an op-ed published in Friday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal, Kashkari made a plea for the government to let more people into the country, saying the policy had a better shot at boosting the economy than the Republican tax cuts.

“If Congress and the administration can deliver reforms that boost legal immigration by one million people a year and tailor the policy to prioritize workers who meet the needs of our economy, the Minneapolis Fed estimates growth would increase by at least 0.5 percentage point a year,” Kashkari wrote. “Immigration is as close to a free lunch as there is for America.”

Since taking the top job at the Minneapolis Fed in 2016, Kashkari has been outspoken on areas of government policy outside the Fed’s purview such as education, something his peers have traditionally been reticent to do.

His remarks come as lawmakers struggle to agree on legislation to extend funding for the government, which runs out at midnight Friday. Many Democrats are withholding support unless the plan includes guarantees that children of undocumented immigrants will be shielded from deportation.

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