Fed’s Kaplan Says Immigration, Mexican Trade Make U.S. Stronger

  • Dallas Fed chief’s arguments contradict Trump positions
  • Kaplan says immigration is essential to growth of labor force

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan said trade with Mexico protects U.S. jobs and immigration is key to the country’s long-term health, contradicting public positions taken by Donald Trump without directly naming the president-elect.

In remarks Wednesday to an audience in Dallas, Kaplan, a Fed policy voter in 2017, spelled out why their southern neighbor was already deeply integrated within the U.S. economy.

“Of the imports from Mexico to the United States, 40 percent of the content is U.S. content. These are production partnerships, integrated supply chains and logistics,” said the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive. “These relationships have increased jobs not only in Texas but in the country, and improved U.S. competitiveness. If we didn’t have this relationship, these jobs would likely be lost.”

Many have challenged the populist economic nationalism that helped Trump win the White House, though Kaplan may have a better chance than most in getting that message across. Trump’s Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor Stephen Bannon told Bloomberg in October 2015 that a casual conversation with Kaplan had helped land him a job with Goldman Sachs back in the 1980s.

Kaplan declined to comment to reporters Wednesday on whether he’d had any contact with the incoming administration, but did say that he viewed sharing research with public officials as an important part of his job.

Trump won supporters on the campaign trail with no-holds-barred attacks on immigration and trade, including a vow to build a wall on the border with Mexico and proposals to tax companies that make U.S. goods in the country.

Kaplan said the U.S. needs population growth to ensure economic health. He said one of the nation’s great assets “which gives us an enormous advantage over many countries, is we have been historically receptive to immigrants. Immigrants and their children make up over half of the growth in the labor force in the United States in the last 20 years.”

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