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The U.S. has more immigrants than any other country in the world, Pew Center Research reports.
That’s a good thing because immigrants boost the U.S. economy, according to a data report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
That finding contradicts stereotypes that immigrants take more from the government than they contribute, or steal jobs.
These stereotypes are simply myths.
How Immigrants Benefit the U.S. Economy
When it comes to government benefits, immigrants contribute more in tax revenue than they take, according to the report.
First-generation immigrants cost the government around $1,600 per person annually. That is more than native-born Americans.
Second-generation immigrants, however, are the strongest economic and fiscal contributors. They contribute $1,700 per year compared to $1,300 for native-born Americans.
“It’s also important to note that less-educated immigrants tend to work more than people with the same level of education born in the U.S.,” Giovanni Peri, an economics professor at the University of California, Davis, told PBS in an interview. “About half of all U.S.-born Americans with no high school diploma work, compared to about 70 percent of immigrants with the same education level.”
Furthermore, undocumented immigrants contribute around $11 billion in taxes. They are also less likely to sign up for public benefits.
Another way immigrants boost the economy is by taking jobs that boost the other parts of the economy. A prime example is working on a farm. The owner and sales staff are native born, and the crop pickers are immigrants.
Immigrants are also 15% more likely to work unusual, non-traditional working hours than similar skilled native born workers. They also work more dangerous job.
The current presidential administration claims American jobs are being taken by immigrants who make up 17% of the workforce. However, experts say they take jobs Americans do not want to.
As the current administration seeks to diminish birthright citizenship, it is increasingly important to look at the facts and the potential negative consequences of this action.
Children who are citizens and have parents who are immigrants have more economic opportunity and rely less on government assistance, thus making for more productive workers, according to the report.
Immigrants, Discrimination, and Economic Effects
Immigrant discrimination negatively affects the economy in a variety of ways.
When immigrants come and work, they need haircuts, food, and other basic necessities. They thus contribute to other business and trades.
However, some policies make it hard for immigrants to achieve health and economic opportunity.
Take Alabama House Bill 56, for example.
Alabama HB 56, called the Alabama TaxPayer and Citizen Protection Act, required police to authenticate people’s immigration status during routine stops, and schools to ask for verification from children and their parents. Furthermore, American citizens were not allowed to hire nor rent housing to undocumented immigrants. This was a law that greatly scared immigrants away, and had negative, local economic effects.
For example, for years farmer Jeremy Calvert employed immigrants on his fruit and vegetable farm, according to Science Vs Immigrant podcast. Calvert hired workers from Mexico and Central America, and paid them $10 an hour.
But after Alabama HB passed, Calvert found that workers were harder to find. He referred to them as “Spanish workers.”
“We noticed over a period of months of maybe a year or so, you just don’t see as many Spanish folks as you once did,” Calvert said on the podcast. “When you own the operation and the job doesn’t get done the burden falls on one person, and that’s me.”
Calvert advertised the labor-intensive jobs on the farm, but never found suitable American workers who wanted to work for $10 an hour for 18 hours a day.
The bottom line is, without immigrants, the U.S. workforce would shrink.
“The number of working-age immigrants is projected to increase from 33.9 million in 2015 to 38.5 million by 2035, with new immigrant arrivals accounting for all of that gain,” according to Pew Research. “Without these new arrivals, the number of immigrants of working age would decline by 17.6 million by 2035, as would the total projected U.S. working-age population.”