Campbell -1Newton Campbell English 111.

1 Lecturer Eric Meljac November 29, 2004 Immigration’s True Effect on the Economy On Ellis Island of New York Harbor lies an American national monument that is meant to stand for all values that Americans hold true. At the base of this monument, these words are inscribed: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door. (Debate Topics: Immigration) These words, as the monument itself does, give a description of one of America’s greatest morals. It is usually the first thing that many immigrants see coming into New York Harbor. These statements are no longer completely supported by America. In the late 1800s and all through the 1900s, the United States started to view immigration as an issue that needed to be dealt with. It began to create demographic problems for Americans of that time. But the economic issue of immigration’s affect on the workforce is one of the biggest controversial issues today. Immigration will not have an affect on the US job market that will be large enough to bring about the downfall of this country’s economy.

Campbell -2Immigrant employment is one of the fundamental necessities for many large companies today. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan says: I have always thought that under the conditions such as what we now confront, we should be carefully focused on the contribution which skilled people from abroad, unskilled people from abroad, what they can contribute to this country as they have for generation after generation. Foreigners provide new, innovative ideas for companies along with a hard work ethic. Immigrants applying for jobs that most likely would not be otherwise filled help a business to function. They bring with them a sense of hard work and productivity. According to The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, “employment-based immigrant categories have included professionals, individuals with exceptional ability, and skilled and unskilled workers.”(69) Because of the lack of education that many of them suffer from, majority of immigrants from poorer countries take on lower class jobs. This is not to say that every immigrant has a lower class job. The argument comes from the idea that hiring foreign workers is an easy way for American businesses to get labor at minimum cost. This creates the idea that immigrants are taking American jobs away. But there are no immigrants that literally come to America, ambush a citizen in the street, and take his/her job. Companies give these jobs to immigrants because it is an intelligent thing to do from a business standpoint. Furthermore, in Economic Effects of Immigration, W.S. Bernard states: One of the most persistent and recurrent fallacies in popular thought is the notion that immigrants take away the jobs of native Americans. This rests

Campbell -3on the misconception that only a fixed number of jobs exist in any economy and that any newcomer threatens the job of any old resident. What Bernard is saying is that as the population of a country increases, so can many eventual job opportunities. The truth is that if many of these companies did not have the immigrant workers that they have today, some of the jobs that they do offer would be relocated in foreign countries. Many poorer immigrants take on jobs that most native born American citizens would not want to take. This is not to say that there are no Americans willing to work on assembly lines or on construction crews. There is simply not enough demand for these blue-collar occupations. The goal of any employer is to maximize profits and minimize costs. By immigrants creating a large labor supply, the demand for these jobs rises. Moreover, immigrants can not take away too much from the economy because many immigrants that are poor when they arrive in the United States end up staying poor or contributing to the economy. Immigrants that come into America poor are always likely to be poorer than native citizens. A study by the National Immigration Forum shows that “in their first lowearning years in the United States, immigrants typically are net drains on the public coffers, but over time –usually after 10 to 15 years in the United States – they turn into net contributors.” In other words, after spending a few years in America, immigrants start to become great contributors to the economy. Currently, about fifteen percent of US citizens fall below the poverty line. Twenty nine percent of all immigrants fall below this line also. Eleven percent of all immigrants in the US are literally “half-broke.” They make half of the income that is set at the poverty line. (About.com: Research Perspectives on Migration) Only six percent of official citizens fall under that category.

Campbell -4One of the main purposes of the argument against immigration is the large number of immigrants that get jobs here. Though a large number of immigrants do come to this country, a great number of them allow our economy to become even greater. According to a study from the National Academy of Sciences, legal immigration adds about ten billion dollars to the United States economy each year. (AILA Fact Sheet) Another study shows that, “By the year 2050, the U.S. population is projected to increase to about 400 million, with immigrants contributing to two-thirds of that growth.” (Opposing Viewpoints, 11) There are many arguments that say that the country needs to put an end to immigration before the overpopulation problem gets out of control. As overpopulation becomes more of a problem, unemployment also becomes a dilemma. The problem with this argument is that much of the research done to support it is either completely made up of allegations or is inconclusive. Moreover, if this country does become overpopulated, it still will not be as poverty-stricken as other countries such as China or India who have overwhelming overpopulation problems. We still would hold much of the world’s economic power. With the rising prerequisites for jobs, it is difficult for an immigrant as well as any other American citizen to get a job without an education. Many middle and upper class jobs require a college degree while most immigrants that come into this country do not even have a high school education. According to a subcommittee for the 2004 United States House of Representatives of the one hundred eighth Congress, about seventy nine percent of America’s current workforce is still made up of native born citizens. (12) Since the 1960s, studies have shown that immigrants have been unemployed far more than native born citizens. (Kposowa, 128) Because anyone who is born here, whether or not

Campbell -5they are from foreign descent, becomes a citizen, there will always be more native born workers than immigrant workers in America. A subcommittee for the 2000 United States House of Representatives of the one hundred sixth Congress noted that there are about 1.8 million people entering the workforce every year. (10) Of all these people, one out of every six of them is an illegal immigrant. The others include high school dropouts, college graduates, and people who are no longer able to receive financial assistance from the government. Even with population increase, native born citizens will always control the largest part of the economy. This country has let many people through its door in an effort for them to have better lives. Trying to protest against immigration is like keeping a door open for a few hundred years and then slowly closing it off to anyone else. There are about 24.8 million immigrants living in the United States today. This is, economically, one of the greatest countries in the world. It has proven to be a place where others can succeed. At the same time, it is also a country based on competition. Gimpel and Edwards said it best in The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform, “Competition is the engine of the global market economy, and America clearly benefits from maintaining a labor force that is highly skilled.” (69) Because this country was built on economic competitiveness it only seems fitting that more competition be brought in. It helps to keep this country, as a whole, successful. Poverty is still active around the world. As people dream of one day being free from oppression, they see a country in which millions of people have succeeded. They see the most successful country in the world. However, because this country, for the most part, does not do anything to help them, they come looking for help. In doing so, they end

Campbell -6up helping our country. This is a country that has always relied on and been improved by immigrants. Many immigrants believe that through hard work, they can succeed in this country. That is an inspirational attitude that many native citizens no longer care to think about. It is for this reason that so many immigrants work so hard and will take any job that they can get when they come to America. It is why they are a beneficial factor in the American workforce and the economy in general.

Campbell -7Works Cited AILA Fact Sheet. 27 Nov. 2004 <http://www.immigrationlinks.com/news/news253.htm>. Bernard, W.S. Economic Effects on Immigration. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company, 1953 Debate Topics: Immigration. 26 Nov. 2004 <http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/composition/patterns/immigration.htm> Edwards Jr., James R., James G. Gimpel. The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform. Allyn And Bacon, 1999 Kposowa, Augustine J. The Impact of Immigration on the United States Economy. University Press of America, Inc, 1998 Moore, Stephen. A Fiscal Portrait of the Newest Americans. Washington DC: National Immigration Forum and Cato Institute, 1998 Research Perspectives on Migration 27. Nov 2004 <http://immigration.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fww w.ceip.org%2Fprograms%2Fmigrat%2Frpm1sum.htm> United States. Subcommittee on Immigration And Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives: One Hundred Sixth Congress. Benefits to the American Economy of a More Educated Workforce. Washington: GPO, 2000 United States. Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, And Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary House of Representatives: One Hundred Eighth Congress. How Would Millions of Guest Workers Impact Working Americans and Americans Seeking Employment. Washington: GPO, 2004

Campbell -8Williams, Mary E. Immigration. Opposing Viewpoints Series. Greenhaven Press, 2004

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