Monday, December 10, 2018

Immigration: Economy Friend Or Foe?

by Christopher Wager (writer), Salem,,, May 17, 2009


The mere mention of the word immigration fires people up in an already volatile atmosphere.

The mere mention of the word immigration fires people up in an already volatile atmosphere. The fact is the media has done more than its part in fueling this fire. Making it appear that illegal and legal immigrants alike have all shown up in the last year when in fact the United States has been dealing with this issue since the early seventeen hundreds.  If we consider, we are all descendants of immigrants from one place or another.

The real issue at hand is the impact 10 million new immigrants are having on the United States economy. Some are quick to say, “They are taking jobs” while others say, “They do jobs Americans won’t do.”

To get to the heart of the matter we must expand our thinking to include some of the sub-issues associated with this question. Such as what jobs are we talking about? Are they all kinds of  jobs or are they unskilled laborer jobs? From data gathered by the Monthly Labor Review (Mosisa), “About a third of immigrants have not finished high school, as compared with 13 percent of native workers, they disproportionately fill low-skill, blue-collar jobs.”

What about wages? Has the influx of alien workers drove down native wages? According to the research done by Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny, “Does Immigration Affect Wages? A Look at Occupational-Level Evidence,” Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Research Department, Working Paper 0302, August 2003. They do, in some areas of employment, while they do not in others. For example, the average laborer in the U.S has lost on average $1,700.00 or 4% annually. Additional information provided by studies done by Harvard economist George Borjas suggests this estimate to be even higher for those without a high school education, about 7.4%. What his studies go on to suggest is that the higher the level of education a person has the less impact the influx of immigrants has on their wages. Education works as an insulator.

However, according to information provided by a report produced by the IMMIGRATION POLICY CENTER (center), Wages of immigrants went up 15% increasing their spending and adding to the GDP over all. As we are starting to see the sub-issues, surrounding this topic can be extensive and complex, next I would like to present the given data on the hard numbers and the response of the economy as a whole.

As reported by White House Council of Economics, immigrants as a whole helped to increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $37 billion a year by increasing the size of the labor force, complimenting the native-born worker.  Again, we have conflicting information on the subject of wages, in this report by Giovanni Peri, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California-Davis. Immigration raises wages for most Americans, by availing themselves to lower paying jobs and not competing for higher educated requirements of some jobs.

To further support the benefits of the presence of immigrants another report done by Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia said the immigrant purchasing power is enormous—and growing. The Latino buying power in 2008 estimates totaled $951 billion dollars, and is expected to increase to $1.4 trillion by 2013, while Asian buying power totaled $509.1 billion in 2008 and is expected to increase to $752.3 billion by 2013. Since 1990, Latino purchasing power has increased by 349% and Asian buying power by 92%.

Immigrants are not just working for Native companies, but for themselves. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2002 1.6 million Hispanic-owned firms provided jobs to 1.5 million employees.

Therefore, what is the down side of the issue of increased immigrants? Some folks are convinced that legal and illegal immigrants are a burden to social programs such as welfare, food stamps, and medical programs. That in fact, they take more than they give, stressing an already over stressed system. Is there any truth to this?  (Greg Anrig)

        The short answer is no, it would only appear to be true from the perspective of state and local experience. A report put out by the National Academy of Sciences found immigrants will pay an estimated $80,000 (in 1996 dollars) more in taxes than they will receive in combined local, state, and federal benefits over their lifetimes. (Edmonston) Immigrant (as the report does label anyone legal or illegal) suggests to their findings a net lifetime fiscal cost on state and local governments because of immigrants is around $25,000. In the form of schools, roads etc., immigrants with low-level education and skills cost the states and localities the most, particularly in the form of emergency room and other hospital services. If this report is accurate according to, which I must believe checks and double-checks their facts to avoid misleading their readers and to not be sued. The fact is, as with any argument, facts and numbers do not lie, people lie. Could all the talk about the additional burden of these people, not just from south of the border just be propaganda? Without hard evidence it is. However, to be totally honest getting rid of them would save jobs and money right? How could they use anything if they’re not here, and this would restore jobs and increase wages again, perfect.

 An Associate Professor of Economics and Senior Domestic Policy Analyst over at William and Mary College decided to ask the question, “What would it cost America to deport all the undocumented workers?” This is what they found under their study. (Rajeev Goyle. David A. Jaeger) This report is the first ever estimate of the impact of a total deportation, the complete 10 million people. The estimate states $206 billion over five years, and could be as high as $230 billion. Spending $41.2 billion annually would exceed the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security for FY 2006, which stood at ($34.2 billion). In addition, more than double the annual cost of military operations in Afghanistan ($16.8 billion). These numbers suggest in spite of our heartfelt response to the issue of immigration legal or otherwise, we can’t afford to act out irrational and reckless idealism if we are to rebuild the system. A system that is truly in the best interest of the country for our children and the children of those wishing for a better life. Works Cited

center, Immigration policy. National immigration april 2009. 13 may 2009 .

Edmonston, James P. Smith and Barry. The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. Research. Washington, D.C: Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 1997.

Greg Anrig, Tova Andrea Wang, The Century Foundation. 29 sept 2004. 13 may 2009 .

Mosisa, Abraham T. may 2002. 13 may 2009 .

Rajeev Goyle. David A. Jaeger, Ph.D.,. "Deporting the Undocumented: A Cost Assessment." research. 2005.

About the Writer

Christopher Wager is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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