We are all familiar of the recent change in the executive branch and the platform this new president holds towards immigrants. Donald Trump has blatantly boasted his negative attitude towards Mexican immigrants. He has even made efforts to build a ginormous wall on the border of Mexico and the United States. What still perplexes me is not the public policy our current president holds, but his and others personal policy of humanity. People like Trump use stereotypical, derogatory statements to summarize immigrants. Trump solidifies the racist and xenophobic tendencies in this culture. He has even said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people” (Donald Trump). This is only one example of Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Some might brush it off, but these statements deeply influence many of the citizens country. Appealing to fear, hate, and xenophobia, Trump and many of his like-minded companions sway the way citizens of this country feel about Mexican immigrants. Though, Trump himself distinguishes between legal and illegal immigration, many of Trump’s supporters do not accept the distinction, which leads them to dislike all immigration. Trump’s hatred towards Mexicans is so strong that his supporters around the country call for a wall diving Mexico and The United States. However, keeping out immigrants or sending them home for that matter would hurt our economy much more than it would help. This wall would cost nearly “$70 billion to build and $150 million a year to maintain. An internal report by the Department of Homeland Security said the wall could cost about $21.6 billion, not including maintenance according to the New York Times Magazine. Despite massive support behind this, in the article, “The Polls-Trends American Public Opinion on Immigrants and Immigration Policy,” when asked, “Do you favor or oppose a proposal to build a 2,000 mile long security fence along the U.S./Mexico border to stop illegal immigration?” the response was“51% favor, 37% oppose” (Segovia and Defever, 7). This brings me to my next argument: immigration is beneficial to the country. Immigration helps the economy and not building the wall would save billions of dollars, this is just one example.
Immigrants play a key role in creating and sustaining vital jobs in our country. According to the National Foundation for American Policy, 51% of billion dollar companies have a founder who was born outside of the USA. Companies founded by immigrants have not only added money to the economy, they also have created a ton of jobs. “Around 33,000 permanent new jobs have been created just by 40 of these billion-dollar companies” (McCready). A common argument that anti-immigration believers spew is that immigrants steal American jobs. This is merely an unbacked line with little evidence. In fact, according to The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration, “there is little evidence that immigration significantly affects the overall employment levels of native-born workers” (Blau and Mackie). In the article, “Rethinking the Effect of Immigration on Wages,” authors write “Estimating a reduced-form or a partial elasticity does not give complete information about the total wage effect of immigration as these estimate only the effect of direct competition, whereas the total wage effect is also determined by indirect complementarities among different types of immigrants and natives” (Ottaviano and Peri). In other words, they concluded that undocumented workers do not compete with skilled laborers, but instead, they complement them. In states with more immigrants, Peri says that skilled workers worked more hours and made more money, thus making the productivity of the economy grow. From 1990 to 2007, undocumented workers increased legal workers’ pay in complementary jobs by up to 10 percent. If Trump is successful with the removal of 11 million undocumented immigrants that he has called for, he will remove over 8 million workers. This will have an adverse effect on the economy and businesses. Donald Trump and his supporters are completely wrong about immigration. Our economy needs the immigrants that Trump’s supporters want to exclude. Immigrants make The United State of America’s economy stronger, and the country is going to need a lot more immigrants in the next couple decades if we want our economy to grow at a faster pace.
Another way immigrants help out with the economy is contributing to Medicaid/Medicare. As the Baby Boomer generation draws closer to retirement age there has been a rapid increase in the need for Social Security and Medicare. The problem is, the ratio of people paying taxes to the people going on government aid programs has gotten uneven over time. Over the years people have been having less and less kids and the old are living longer due to technological advances in medicine and care. That is great, however this puts a burden on the healthy, working people who have to pay taxes to support these programs. This is where immigrants come into play. Without the help of immigrants, the United States would reach a crisis point in the next few decades as the labor-force collapses. Due to the arrivals of many young workers from Latin America and Asian countries, the workforce has been growing just enough to support medicare. With an open immigration policy, there will always be a big enough workforce to keep the economy growing. With an economy full of taxpayers, the older generation can relax as their medicare and social security gets funded.
Lastly, Immigration is beneficial to the country on a social level. Immigration gives rise to diverse communities and this is very important for a modern culture. Diversity enriches the environment in which people bring about new ideas, companies, and growth. Immigration makes us less globally isolated. Immigration promotes multilingualism. Immigration affects how we view people of other ethnicities and their country and more importantly how others view our country. Most Americans do not get a chance to travel to many different countries, meaning the cultural experience they may receive is with people from other countries. For example China Town or Mexican town is a community where people can go to experience a certain culture. Giving Americans more opportunities to meet people from other countries right here at home and experience some different cultural practices. This helps connect our citizens to the broader world.
The ability to demonstrate understanding and respect for diverse cultural backgrounds is a vital skill in today’s globalized world. Despite the fact even our own government heavily relies on skilled multilingual individuals in order to accomplish critical work, our country’s educational system lags behind many other countries when it comes to teaching children other languages. There are also many other jobs where multilingualism is dire, such as the health services or even retail. Being able to communicate with all types of people is very important. Many immigrants who live in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home. The immensity of our nation’s language capacity is thanks to its immigrants. Along with new people and new languages come new ideas. Immigrants bring with them practices and cultural knowledge from their homelands, so that these ideas can be incorporated into the new country they call home. Cutting ourselves off from the world is generally a dangerous thing. Just look at North Korea, which also happens to be the only country that is truly monolingual, owing in great part to this isolation. Diversity can strengthen a population, not just in terms of demographics, but in terms of ideas that can help the American Dream to continue evolving with the times. The foreign-born population in the United States is currently made up of 37 million people, or about 12 percent of the total U.S. population. This means we have 37 million voices who frequently report back to people in other countries about life in the United States. These immigrants often trigger international tourism when their friends and families come to visit, spending money in our economy and helping America obtain a piece of the U.S. $2 trillion global travel and tourism industry. Each of those tourists takes back with them not only souvenirs and photos, but individual experiences that help form collective opinions overseas of what America is like and why it matters in the world.
As the country waits for details on every new immigration reform and every politician’s immigration platform, let us remember that immigration is what brought the vast majority of Americans to this land in the first place. Our country would not be the global superpower it is today without the millions of immigrants who came here for the American Dream. This dream should be made available to all immigrants. It seems vacuous to debate whether immigration is a good thing or not when it is such an intrinsic part of the very foundation the country was built on. Instead of building walls, the United States should be building bridges with other countries. Immigration leads to diverse communities and workplaces
“Americans distinguish between immigrants at the national level and immigrants at the personal level, with more favorable public attitudes associated with individual immigrants’ personality characteristics.” All legal immigrants deserve an equal opportunity to succeed in America.
“The American people can choose a ‘policy of humanity’ in which they try to imagine themselves in the shoes of the new arrivals to theses cities and shores” (Decosse 952)
46% of people responded to one of the polls in my first article saying they believe immigrants work harder than people born in America. (Segovia and Defever, 7)
Through extensive research, I have come to the conclusion that there are three main factors that answer my question. Politics influence public opinion and more importantly some actions actually make life harder on immigrants. My next reason, a lack of empathy, is why some U.S. citizens are against immigrants; it is the same empathy that drives my interest in this topic, and I believe this lack of empathy is why people forget they descendants of immigrants and our founding families were immigrants too. Xenophobia, the irrational dislike or fear of people from another country, is one last reason that perpetuates anti-immigration beliefs. A large group of United States citizens strongly dislike certain groups of immigrants and this needs to change because it is hypocritical behavior that promotes irrational hate and terrorism.
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