Contributions of Immigrants to the United States
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Immigrants, both legal and illegal, continue to be attracted to the United States and its opportunities. According to the U.S. Census, in 1990, the number of immigrants was estimated at 28 million. Fourteen years later that number increased to 32 million. Most of the 32 million immigrants are Hispanic with Asians as the second largest cohort. In a report published by the CEA, or Council of Economic Advisers, immigrants were found to positively contribute to the U.S. economy. The data indicate that
immigrants contribute more than $30 billion in income for American workers (U.S. born). In terms of innovation per capita, immigrants in the U.S. beat the U.S. born workers. A greater number of immigrants start up businesses compared to native born Americans; their start up pace is estimated to be 40% greater. Other reports indicate that immigrants had a lower probability of ending up in prison and committing crimes, as compared to individuals born in the US. The CEA report also found that immigrant workers in the United States yield a greater output. Immigrants play a role in the country’s macroeconomic growth and their taxes help increase public budgets. The study found that on average, immigrants and their offspring contribute nearly $80,000 more in tax revenue compared to natives. This figure helps to offset the problem that will arise with the nation’s Social Security system, but it will not take care of the problem entirely. Due to the large number of “Baby Boomers” retiring in the near future, the number of retirees will outnumber the number of contributors. The Medicare program has also seen an increase in enrollees and will also benefit from addition tax revenue.
A common claim among critics is that immigrants take jobs away from Americans and decrease wages in the United States. They believe that this has resulted in a higher unemployment rate in the United States. Conversely, a study conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center found that there is not enough evidence to support this claim. The Pew Hispanic Center receives its funds from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It is a research organization that focuses on controversial issues like genetics and climate change. The Pew Hispanic Center strives to present unbiased information to the public. While this claim may hold true in some states, the Pew Hispanic Center found that the claim cannot be applied to the United States in general. In addition, the study found that there was no significant correlation among employment rates and immigration rates. This data was taken from the U.S. Census Data, comparing data from 1990 up until 2004. In one example, the study took the 10 states with the highest employment rates during a four year period (2000 to 2004). Half of the states experienced high immigration but the other half had low immigration growth. Even in times where there was some degree of economic slowdown, there was found to be no significant correlation between immigrant growth and unemployment rate. In the states with a lower influx of immigrants, 60% of American workers did not post permanent gains in the employment sector. However, the study did not distinguish between immigrants that are legal and those who are illegal in the United States.
To increase their chances of achieving a better life, immigrants tend to move to areas where generally there is low unemployment and the economy is strong. Sometimes they come alone, other times with family. Many risk everything for a life in the United States, sometimes dying in their attempt. Besides their contribution to the economy, immigrants contribute in many other non-economic ways. They add diversity to the nation and give us a better understanding of different cultures by living side by side with Americans. In a study conducted by Harvard University, findings indicate that many immigrant children value education more highly than young children born in the United States. In many immigrant families, education is stressed as the way to a better life. Many immigrant children end up pursuing higher education and this adds to a greater number of individuals in the U.S. with a college education. As a result of an increased population attaining advanced degrees, the U.S. can be even more competitive in today’s global market. The United States is a country founded by immigrants, and future immigration will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in American history.
In 2007, legislation for a comprehensive immigration bill was vetoed. Proposed bills in this legislation included a path towards U.S. citizenship for the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. Legislation also called for a guest worker program and greater penalties for employers who willingly hire illegal immigrants.