By: Molly Kleinman
When the economy is in trouble, as it often is, people want to find an easy answer. Often times, this comes at the expense of persecuted individuals, such as immigrants. But despite myths surrounding immigrants-both legal and illegal-they are actually a boon to the U.S. economy.
The claim that immigrants take more from the U.S. than they give in is false. According to a 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, although first generation immigrants cost the government more than their native-born counterparts, their children, second generation immigrants, are, "among the strongest fiscal and economic contributors in the U.S.," contributing $400 per person per year more than all other native-born Americans. Furthermore, illegal immigrants often pay taxes, but are unable to receive any of the benefits because of their lack of status. In fact, the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy claims illegal immigrants pay an estimated $11.6 billion in taxes each year. Thus, immigrants contribute more to the U.S. economy than they take.
Similarly, immigrants do not take jobs away from Americans. It is true that they work more often (roughly 50 percent of U.S.-born Americans with no high school diploma work, about 70 percent of immigrants with the same education level work), it is often because they take jobs that native-born Americans wouldn't, such as doing hard labor on a farm. Additionally, if an immigrant is here illegally, an employer may take advantage of that and hire them to work at an illegally low wage. The theoretical loss of an American's job is the burden of a greedy employer not an exploited employee.
Even if there were a shortage of jobs, the U.S. is in need of more workers. Because of the declining birthrate in the U.S., the country is suffering from a shrinking workforce. Currently, Americans are not having children at a sufficient rate to replace dying or retiring workers. As the population shrinks, so does the money being paid into Social Security, and because people are living longer than ever before, if immigrants were to be barred there would likely be an insufficient amount of money by the time Millenials retire.
In sum, despite the fact that it is easy to blame immigrants for economic woes, it would be inaccurate. The United States is in desperate need of workers at all skill levels and should welcome them with open arms.