Our American journey and our success would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe. It America is a nation of immigrants. It is helpful to take a moment to reflect on the important contributions by the generations of immigrants who have helped us build our economy, and made America the economic engine of the world.
California The day after Librado Velasquez arrived on Staten Island after a long, surreptitious journey from his Chiapas, Mexico, home, he headed out to a street corner to wait with other illegal immigrants looking for work. Velasquez, who had supported his wife, seven kids, and his in-laws as a campesino, or peasant farmer, until a hurricane devastated his farm, eventually got work, off the books, loading trucks at a small New Jersey factory, which hired illegals for jobs that required few special skills.
The arrangement suited both, until a work injury sent Velasquez to the local emergency room, where federal law required that he be treated, though he could not afford to pay for his care. After five operations, he is now permanently disabled and has remained in the United States to pursue compensation claims.
I need help, and I thought maybe my son could come and work here and support me here in the United States. Since the mids, America has welcomed nearly 30 million legal immigrants and received perhaps another 15 million illegals, numbers unprecedented in our history.
These immigrants have picked our fruit, cleaned our homes, cut our grass, worked in our factories, and washed our cars. But they have also crowded into our hospital emergency rooms, schools, and government-subsidized aid programs, sparking a fierce debate about their contributions to our society and the costs they impose on it.
Advocates of open immigration argue that welcoming the Librado Velasquezes of the world is essential for our American economy: Like tax cuts, supporters argue, immigration pays for itself. America does not have a vast labor shortage that requires waves of low-wage immigrants to alleviate; in fact, unemployment among unskilled workers is high—about 30 percent.
Moreover, many of the unskilled, uneducated workers now journeying here labor, like Velasquez, in shrinking industries, where they force out native workers, and many others work in industries where the availability of cheap workers has led businesses to suspend investment in new technologies that would make them less labor-intensive.
Yet while these workers add little to our economy, they come at great cost, because they are not economic abstractions but human beings, with their own culture and ideas—often at odds with our own.
Increasing numbers of them arrive with little education and none of the skills necessary to succeed in a modern economy. As famed free-market economist Milton Friedman puts it: Subsequent studies of American immigration with titles like The Uprooted convey the same impression of the dispossessed and displaced swarming here to find a new life.
But that argument distorts the realities of the first great migration.
Those waves of immigrants—many of them urban dwellers who crossed a continent and an ocean to get here—helped supercharge the workforce at a time when the country was going through a transformative economic expansion that craved new workers, especially in its cities.
Many of these immigrants quickly found a place in our economy, participating in the workforce at a higher rate even than the native population. Their success at finding work sent many of them quickly up the economic ladder: Another study found that their American-born children were just as likely to be accountants, engineers, or lawyers as Americans whose families had been here for generations.
What the newcomers of the great migration did not find here was a vast social-services and welfare state. They had to rely on their own resources or those of friends, relatives, or private, often ethnic, charities if things did not go well.
For though one often hears that restrictive anti-immigration legislation starting with the Emergency Quota Act of ended the first great migration, what really killed it was the crash of the American economy.
Even with the s quotas, America welcomed some 4. Ina new immigration act eliminated the old system of national quotas, which critics saw as racist because it greatly favored European nations. Lawmakers created a set of broader immigration quotas for each hemisphere, and they added a new visa preference category for family members to join their relatives here.
Sojourners from poorer countries around the rest of the world arrived in ever-greater numbers, so that whereas half of immigrants in the s had originated from Europe, 75 percent by the s were from Asia and Latin America.
And as the influx of immigrants grew, the special-preferences rule for family unification intensified it further, as the pool of eligible family members around the world also increased. Legal immigration to the U.
As the floodgates of legal immigration opened, the widening economic gap between the United States and many of its neighbors also pushed illegal immigration to levels that America had never seen. With Mexican farmworkers able to earn seven to ten times as much in the United States as at home, by the s illegals were pouring across our border at the rate of abouta year, and U.
But an unusual coalition of business groups, unions, civil rights activists, and church leaders thwarted the call for restrictions with passage of the inaptly named Immigration Reform and Control Act, which legalized some 2.
The law proved no deterrent, however, because supporters, in subsequent legislation and court cases argued on civil rights grounds, weakened the employer sanctions.Do illegal Immigrants help or hurt the U.S economy?
The topic of immigrants continues to elicit constant debate in the United States. Economists have brought different viewpoints with some arguing that the impact of immigrant workers is positive while others say it is negative. Immigrants are less educated than the average American. But that's improving.
For example, thirty percent of immigrants, 25 and older, lack a high school diploma compared to . Immigrants are less educated than the average American. But that's improving. For example, thirty percent of immigrants, 25 and older, lack a high school diploma compared to 10 percent of native-born adults.
At the heart of the debate over illegal immigration lies one key question: are immigrants good or bad for the economy?
The American public overwhelmingly thinks they’re bad. She told the crowd: “I believe that when we have millions of hardworking immigrants contributing to our economy, it would be self-defeating and inhumane to try to kick them out.
Comprehensive. Feb 17, · It’s the Economy. Do Illegal Immigrants Actually Hurt the U.S. Economy? Image.
Credit Credit Illustration by Jasper Rietman. that cost taxpayers and add to our $16 trillion national debt.