Immigration: Essential to Economic Growth

American immigrants are vital to the growth and success of our economy, even though many who are unemployed or economically insecure mistakenly believe that immigrants have taken their jobs.  Donald Trump used and is using this unsubstantiated belief to win the last election and to try to win the  next election .  For example, the reports of the “menacing caravan” from central American in the news lately resulted in about only 200 women and children arriving at our border seeking asylum of which about 1/4 (50 people) will be accepted (from Why Trump Manufactured an Immigration Crisis by Washington Post Columnist Fareed Zakaria printed in Burlington County Times May 9, 2018).

In fact, U.S. immigration is at an all time low. The Pew Research Center Study reports that illegal cross-border migration was at its lowest level on record.  This decline has been a two decade long trend.  For example, from 2009 to 2014 one million Mexican families went back home while only 870,00 arrived.   Furthermore, according to Brookings Senior Fellow William Frey “…census statistics show that current immigration levels (of high-skilled immigrants) are increasingly vital to the growth of much of America, and recent arrivals are more highly skilled than ever before.  Gains through immigration are needed as our nation’s population gets older as birth rate levels remain low.”  Let’s look at some of the positive results of U.S. immigration.

  • Immigrants often fill the jobs Americans don’t want.
  • Refugees to the U.S. brought in $63 billion more in government revenues than they cost the government.
  • Immigration is a major source of population growth and beneficial to the American economy.
  • Immigration has no negative impact on crime, it actually reduces crime.
  • Immigration may adversely affect some low-skilled natives, but diversity has a net positive effect on productivity and economic prosperity.
  • Over the long-term, tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants (both legal and unauthorized) exceed the cost of the services they use.
  • Immigrants contribute as much as $10 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
  • Undocumented immigrants have positive effects on the native population and the public coffers.
  • Increasing deportation rates and tightening border control weakens low-skilled labor markets, increasing unemployment of native low-skilled workers.
  • Legalization decreases the unemployment rate of low-skilled natives and increases income per native.
  • Legalization of undocumented immigrants boost the U.S. economy.

There is a positive link between immigration and economic growth.  According to Brookings Senior Fellow, Danny Bahar “…while immigration represents about 15% of the general workforce, they account for around 1/4 of entrepreneurs and 1/4 of investors in the U.S. and that over 1/3 of new firms have at least one immigrant entrepreneur in its initial leadership team.  The [negative] impact of immigration on the wages of native-born workers is very small.  It mostly negatively impacts the wages of prior immigrants with a similar skill set.  By cutting on immigration, the country will miss an opportunity for new inventions and ventures that could generate the jobs that the President is so committed to bring back.  If the current administration wants to create jobs and ‘Make America Great Again’ it should consider enlisting more migrants.”

Unfortunately, high unemployment areas have greater anti-immigrant sentiment.  And, the less contact a native-born American has with immigrants, the more likely they are to have a negative view of immigrants.  Skill development of the native-born population, not deportation is the answer.  According to Brookings Senior Fellow Vanda Felbab-Brown, “Fixing immigration is not about mass deportations of people but creating a legal visa system for jobs Americas do not want.  And it is about providing better education opportunities, skills development and retooling, and safety nets for American workers.”  Investing in infrastructure, education and healthcare is an investment in American workers and American families, and immigrants are essential to our collective success.

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Concerned Citizen

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