Immigration is a complex issue that draws a lot of public attention in the USA. Americans have quite a specific view on this phenomenon. Furchtgott-Roth (2013) states that Americans oppose immigration, as they fear that immigrants can take up their jobs. Opponents of immigration emphasize the need to close borders and let the nation develop without newcomers. However, researchers state that immigration has a significant positive impact on the development of the US economy. Clearly, during the period of financial constraints, it can be beneficial for Americans to reconsider their attitude towards immigration as it can help them solve many issues. It is possible to briefly analyze major benefits of immigration to understand that the USA needs it at the beginning of the 21st century.
One of the major and the most conspicuous benefits of immigration is the fact that immigrants create jobs. Fitz and Wolgin (2012) state that immigrants are effective entrepreneurs and job creators. Thus, according to 2000 census, 12.5% of business owners were immigrants and, at the same time, immigrants made up 12.2% of the total labor force. Importantly, it was found that immigrants made $67 billion in revenue, which made up 12% of the total business income during the same period (Fitz & Wolgin, 2012). Moreover, in 2010, 18% of Fortune 500 businesses were owned by foreign-born people and researchers claim that recent companies that are on the Fortune 500 list are likely to be owned by an immigrant rather than a native-born (Fitz & Wolgin, 2012). Clearly, immigration is associated with a significant entrepreneurial capacity and it contributes greatly to the development of the US economy.
Therefore, it is clear that Americans’ fears that immigrants will take up all their jobs is, at least, overestimated since immigrants often start their business rather than look for employment. At that, those who do find jobs often agree to become a part of unskilled labor force where workers earn little money. It has been acknowledged that Americans are reluctant to enter that labor market. Furchtgott-Roth (2013) state that 42% of the unskilled labor force is made up by immigrants. Interestingly, immigrants do not occupy low skilled jobs that are taken by Americans. For example, these jobs are funeral service workers and crossing guards.
Apart from job creation, immigrants positively affect development of states. Fitz & Wolgin (2012, p. 234) note that Nebraska (where immigrants make up only 5.05% of the state’s total population) “saw $1.6 billion in total output added to its economy” from immigrant spending. Clearly, states with a larger immigrant population have a greater economic impact (which is positive). In New Jersey, the immigrant population is 19.7% and they generate almost 25% of the state’s earnings (Fitz & Wolgin, 2012). Besides, immigrants are also consumers that contribute considerably to the generation of income in states. For instance, in Arizona, immigrant population’s spending was over $4 billion, which supported about 28,000 full-time jobs.
Furthermore, foreign-born students and graduates contribute greatly to the development of science and technology of the USA. It has been estimated that 51% of engineering doctorate graduates and 41% of physical science doctorate graduates (who are foreign-born) have to leave the USA due to the laws and this leads to significant losses in research value (Furchtgott-Roth, 2013). Bandow (2013) states that students obtaining higher education in the USA could contribute to development of the US economy if they could stay in the country and get employment.
Of course, opponents of immigration often claim that immigrants are involved in illegal activities. However, this is not due to the vicious nature of these people. They are put in the conditions where they are vulnerable to abuse and criminalization (Bandow, 2013). Researchers and officials agree that the legislation addressing immigration issues has become quite outdated and it needs changes. For instance, Bandow (2013) notes that immigrants could become very effective labor force if employment was not associated or so tightly connected with citizenship. The author claims that Switzerland can be regarded as a country where immigrants who work as expatriates contribute to the development of the country’s economy immensely and are fully integrated into the society.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that immigration is quite a complex issue but it is clear now that it has a positive effect on the US economy and officials should develop the legislation that will make it even more beneficial. Immigrant population contributes to development of the economy as they create jobs, they are a part (a larger part) of unskilled labor force, and they also contribute to the US economy through their spending. Foreign-born graduates can make a considerable contribution into the development of the economy as well. Clearly, there are certain issues and controversies as sometimes immigrants are involved in some illegal activities. However, changes in the US legislation will eliminate any negative influences. It is also important to pay attention to the public opinion. Americans are still negative about immigration due to their fears and prejudice. However, they should understand numerous benefits of immigration for the US economy as this will lead to the more effective integration of immigrants into the American society.
Bandow, D. Immigration benefits the US, so let’s legalize all work. Forbes.
Fitz, M., & Wolgin, P.E. Cost to taxpayers. In J. Gans, E.M. Replogle & D.J. Tichenor (Eds.), Debates on US immigration (pp. 227-242). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Furchtgott-Roth, D.The economic benefits of immigration. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, 18.