Americans have a divided opinion when it comes to the issue of migration. Many Americans feel that the country benefits from immigrants as they help in sustaining the economy by taking up low-skilled jobs. There are many Americans however, who feel that immigrants 'encroach' on the American way of life, create unemployment by 'stealing' jobs meant for Americans and 'strain' the social service budgets. The topic of immigration has taken emotional undertones after the 9/11 attacks. However, if the policy makers and statisticians are to be believed, immigration is good for the overall health of the American society. Julian L. Simon in his book, The Economic Consequences of Immigration has revealed that the impact of immigration has been positive on the American economy.
Immigration can either be legal or illegal. When a person moves to another country after acquiring all the necessary permission in the forms of visa, passport, etc., from the government of that country, the person qualifies as a legal immigrant. But, the cause of concern for American authorities is the abuse of legal migration policy. A lot of people enter the country without taking the necessary permission. Also, people who are on a student, tourist, and work visa often overstay in the country making them illegal immigrants. While most people are unanimous against illegal immigrants, it is the issue of legal immigrants that often is debated in the political circles of the country. Let us now take a look at some of the facts which can give us some information about the changes immigrants have made to the socio-economic condition of America.
A lot of people are wary of the growing numbers of the immigrants in the United States. They fear that if things are allowed to continue like this, Americans may become a minority in their own country. These opinions seemed to be based on assumptions as the reality on the ground is completely different. Let us take a look at some facts in support of immigration.
- Out of the total population of the United States, people who are 'foreign-born' constitute about 9.5% of the total population.( in 2000) The percentage of the 'foreign-born' was 22% in Australia and 16% in Canada.
- Studies have found that the immigrants who arrived in the United States between 1990 & 2004 led to an increase in the wages of native workers by 4%. Another study by the Immigration Policy Center in the United States has revealed that immigrant men between 18 to 39 have lower incarceration rates than people born in America.
- Immigrants have contributed to the economic growth by creating new markets and have helped establish many new businesses. Immigrants who are less skilled are helping the American economy by taking up low-paying, low-skill jobs.
- Most surveys have pointed out that the net gain to the U.S. economy from immigration is about $20 billion.
- It has been predicted that in the coming years, the ratio of retired persons to young population will increase and it can affect the U.S. economy. The ratio of retired people and youngsters is lower in immigrant population and this can help stabilizing the overall scenario.
- It is a well-known fact that most of the skilled people who come under the "employment preference" category, often hold very high positions in the organizations. Around 25% of the doctors in the United States are foreign-born and the immigrants also form a sizable chunk in prestigious companies like Microsoft and Google.
People who oppose immigration claim that it puts additional strain on the government and immigrants who are not able to find any jobs have to take the help of already overburdened social aid services. They also claim that the immigration policy of America makes it vulnerable to terrorist activities. In the end, we can only say that the lawmakers have to ensure that the right and the deserving candidates who have completed all the legalities do not face too much of troubles while emigrating to America.