Immigration has been an essential topic of discussion in recent years due to an increased number of immigrants and refugees that want to enter the United States. Moreover, some politicians have tried to address the influx of immigrants by changing policies and “tightening of U.S. border controls” in recent years (Maha and Maha). Despite the prejudice towards immigrants that some citizens have, the latter make a substantial contribution to the state’s economy because they work and purchase goods, affecting the local economies and industries’ development. These actions address the labor market shortages and result in a direct contribution to the state’s welfare. Immigrants are beneficial to the United States because they perform tasks that Americans would rather not do; they pay taxes, and they contribute to cultural diversity.
Labor Market Shortages and Economy
Some politicians in the United States view immigration, both legal and illegal, as a problem and advocate for enhanced border control policies to ensure that a lesser number of immigrants enter the country. Despite these efforts, Maha and Maha note that between 2000 and 2008, the number of immigrants increased by three million. Hence, despite the efforts of politicians, immigration rates continue to grow. However, not many politicians address the positive effect of immigration and its impacts on the economy and development of the state. Immigrants agree to take jobs that citizens usually refuse, which helps support some industries. The citizens may perceive these offers as non-prestigious and such that they provide insufficient compensation, while immigrants typically have fewer choices in terms of job offers.
Immigrants contribute to the economy of the United States because they work and pay taxes. According to Otiso and Smith, for some cities, for example, Ohio, the ability to attract immigrants and engage them in the local labor markets is vital (134). The vitality of attracting immigrants to the cities is linked to the population growth that has halted, which may have a harmful effect on the local economies. Otiso and Smith argue that some citizens in the United States have to invest in developing their local infrastructure to attract immigrants because their natural population growth has stopped (134). Notably, although many politicians speak on the issue of immigration, not many addresses the problem of cities being deprived of the labor force and ways of addressing this problem to ensure that industries continue to develop. Thus, the immigrants are beneficial for the United States because they help address the issue of decreasing population growth in industrial cities, which will become a serious problem for the government in the nearest future.
Some Americans perceive immigration, especially illegal, as a negative phenomenon, despite the fact that this state was founded by immigrants. Maha and Maha state that immigrants affect this state in a multitude of ways, including their impact on the labor market, the budget of the country and businesses, and the consumption of products. When immigrants enter the United States, they have to have found a job to support themselves and their families. Subsequently, they purchase goods, such as food and clothes, which helps local businesses. They also provide their services in the form of labor to these businesses, which also contributes to the state’s economic development. This is supported by Maha and Maha’s claim that immigrants’ motivation is “the lure of a better life in financial terms,” which is the main reason why they choose to immigrate. Therefore, immigrants do not enter the state to exploit its resources. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to improve their lives. To achieve this, they work, which contributes to the development of the local economy.
Labor Market Shortages
The immigrants help the economy by agreeing to job offers that citizens refuse and assisting industries in development, which is essential considering the aging of the population. According to the report by Byfield, Canada has been experiencing a shortage of workers in the recent decade (41). Moreover, Byfield argues that considering the current population trends, the older generation of citizens will have to work for more years and retire at an older age when compared to previous generations because the state lacks young workers who would address the labor shortage issue (41).
The problem is connected to the fact that when the generation of baby boomers enters their retirement age, the proportion of citizens who have a job and earn their living will decrease significantly. This, in its turn, will become a significant burden for the economy, both because of the governmental expenditures needed to support older populations and labor market shortages. Immigration has some potential for addressing this problem because immigrants could help the economy by entering the labor market. According to Byfield, in order for Canada to avoid the catastrophic economic consequences of population aging, the current rate of immigration should rise from 200,000 to 500,000 (41). Therefore, immigrants can address the potential economic crisis that is a result of the aging population and the increase of non-working individuals.
Although the previous report focuses on Canada and its need to support immigration to address the aging population, the United States will face the same issues. Jacoby notes that one of the benefits of immigration is its contribution to addressing the demographic changes of the state’s workforce (50). Hence, Americans may face similar challenges when the number of individuals who work will become substantially smaller than the number of people who are retired or have not entered the workforce yet. Moreover, in Jacoby’s view, the country can enjoy the many benefits of immigration regardless of whether it is legal or illegal since associated expenditures are smaller than the fiscal and demographic benefits (51). Therefore, although immigration is viewed as a negative occurrence, it is a good way of addressing the changes in the population’s age and ensuring that there is a sufficient number of workers in a country.
Immigration supports the innovation and development of industries in the United States. According to the analysis by Hanson, immigrants are not always low-skilled workers who apply for entry-level positions (25). There are immigrants who significantly affect the high-tech industries because they have good educational backgrounds and experience. Moreover, in the past, the economic development of the United States was linked to increased productivity of labor, which can be achieved by inviting high-skilled immigrants.
The approach that politicians take towards managing immigration affects the number of people arriving, their skills, and educational background, which affect the labor market and industry development. Hanson notes that “immigration policy affects the pace of innovation in the U.S., economy, the supply of labor by high skilled works, the ability of regional economies to adjust to business cycle fluctuations” (24). Thus, while immigration is not a problem itself, the policies that define the type of qualifications and experience, as well as the migrant’s intentions to contribute to the state’s welfare, are essential. Most politicians refer to the low-skilled immigrants, primarily from Mexico, when discussing immigration policy. However, Lewis argues that statistically, the proportion of immigrants with advanced degrees is higher than the number of individuals with little educational background (50). Moreover, “a larger proportion of immigrants have advanced degrees than native Americans” (Lewis 49). Hence, immigration policy and debate overlook the fact that the majority of immigrants are intellectuals who can contribute to the development of industries such as IT and technology.
A distinction should be made between the people who enter the state legally and those who are undocumented to review the issue of immigration thoroughly. Lewis states that some industries in the United States are dependent on immigration, including the undocumented immigrants from Mexico (49). Agriculture and farmers employ these individuals, which allows them to remain in this highly competitive market. After the United States government decided to halt temporary visas and intensify border control, the farmers reported having labor shortages (Lewis 50). While the issues with undocumented immigration are evident, the rapid decrease in the number of workers can harm the farmers and their ability to continue operating their facilities. Lewis notes that 93% of farms in California use undocumented Mexican immigrants as their labor force (50). Therefore, even illegal immigration supports some of the vital industries that are crucial for the United States’ development, such as agriculture.
The United States politicians can use the examples of other states to evaluate the impact of immigration. Cholezas and Tsakloglou provide an assessment of Greece’s development, which has experienced an influx of migration from the Balkan states (77). Although the authors note that the effect f this has been both positive and negative, there are substantial economic benefits that Greece enjoyed. For example, the GDP growth rate has increased, and this is attributed to the immigrants entering the workforce. Similar to the example of the United States discussed by Lewis, the immigrants to Greece mainly engaged in the agricultural sector of the economy and helped developed it (49). This includes establishing enterprises or being hired for semi-skilled labor, both of which have a positive effect on economic development.
A common misconception is that immigrants’ contribution to the state’s welfare in the form of taxes or GDP is not significant. According to Sokou, immigrants have a moderate net effect on a state’s economy and can shift the GDP by 0.5 in both directions. The author argues that if the states were to invest in ensuring that immigrants succeed, this would contribute to the country’s welfare and create a win-win scenario (Sokou). For example, immigrants supported in their adaptation to the local life will be more inclined to get a legal job and pay taxes. Sokou also notes the flaws in many studies that account for the immigrants’ contribution to the number of state resources they use. Generally, these researches do not account for the long-term impact of immigrants and use only data related to taxes and social security expenditures.
Both legal and undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy through payroll taxes. Nadadur argues that despite the state having to pay for the public services that illegal immigrants use, the latter’s contribution in the form of taxes counteracts this (1037). The issue of undocumented immigrants’ tax contribution has not been studied extensively because it is difficult to differentiate between their payments and those of the citizens; however, there are some estimations. Although illegal immigrants accumulatively pay less in payroll taxes when compared to legal migrants, their earnings are typically lower (Nadur 1037). Hence, when comparing the contribution of immigrants as taxes, even illegal immigrants account for a proportion of these payments. Therefore, they do not use the state’s resources without accounting for it in the form of taxes and, in fact, contribute to the welfare of the state.
The cultural effect of immigration is also significant, especially for the United States. Maha and Maha note that this country was founded by immigrants from the Western Euro as a result of prosecution on the basis of religion. However, most modern-day Americans tend to overlook this face and do not consider the aspects of cultural diversity and principles on which this state was founded. The implication of immigration in terms of culture is supporting the diversity that the United States was founded on and maintaining an influx of different worldviews and opinions in the state.
The perception of immigrants in their place of residence by the citizens differs from how the former see themselves. According to Verkuyten et al., immigrants develop a “dual identity,” which is a combination of their homeland culture and the culture of their place of residence (390). The ability of these individuals to navigate through these multiple identities is integral for them to achieving social goals, such as racial equality. Hence, immigrants make an essential contribution to a state’s social development as well because they become advocates of equal rights and fair treatment for all.
Immigration and a merger of different cultures is an inevitable process. Verkuyten et al. state that in the recent decades, the countries in Europe or Oceania, which have been heterogeneous in terms of their citizens’ ethnicity, have acquired substantial populations of immigrants and their descendants (390). The latter may have difficulty defining themselves and their role within these societies and combining their home culture with that of their new country.
The government can either support immigration and its economic and cultural benefits or allow other states to take advantage of this occurrence. An interesting outlook on how immigration is linked to culture is described by Adichie in her book “Americanah.” There, the author depicts an example of two Nigerian teenagers, one of whom moves to the United States for college (Adichie 10). This is a common practice as many people come to the United States on study visas and later stay to work. The main character of Adichie’s book, however, decided to return to his homeland fifteen years after he immigrated (50). Part of the issue was the racism and a disconnect between the perceived freedom that should be integral to America and reality that is filled with inequalities and racism. Hence, this book highlights how immigration can help America become a better nation.
In conclusion, this paper addresses the common misconception that immigration only has adverse effects on a country and should be restricted through policies. Evidence and reports suggest that despite this view, the number of immigrants entering the United States is increasing. Moreover, these immigrants support cities where population growth has stopped, which otherwise would face unprecedented labor shortages.
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