How immigrants contribute to the American economy

NOAH HOLT Staff Writer

When choosing where to immigrate, individuals consider locations where their gifts can be utilized for prosperity. They choose a place where they know they can find work and put their skills to use to make money.

Individuals do not immigrate to countries where they believe their skills are of no use. In evaluating possibilities, the balance for decision-making has to do with need, opportunity and qualification. Individuals, regardless of their level of education, take time to consider the opportunities versus their capabilities in the process of deciding whether or not to immigrate. Most of the time, the process is driven by the clear and imminent potential of permanently losing their family and their home.

It requires “courage and optimism,” said Stephanie Miley, deputy chief of mission, during her opening remarks at the Moroccan Fulbright Alumni Association, when they make the decision to leave what they know and start a new life in a country where the culture can be completely different. It requires that there is potential for immigrants to find a niche where their skills can be paired with a need.

Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute and Director of the Economics21 program, Diana Furchtgott-Roth said, “Immigration increases economic efficiency by reducing labor shortages in low and high-skilled markets because their educational backgrounds fill holes in the native-born labor market.”

However, immigration is currently looked at in a negative light by a large part of the United States population. According to Pew Research Center, 37 percent of Americans believe immigrants have a negative impact on American society. People believe that immigrants are taking jobs away from native-born citizens and are “making [America] worse.”

However, research suggests that both illegal and legal immigrants help this nation build itself and grow in various ways economically. President John F. Kennedy stated in his book, A Nation of Immigrants, “Every aspect of the American economy has profited from the contributions of immigrants” and President Obama said, “As a nation of immigrants, we must remember that generations of immigrants have helped lay the railroads and build our cities, pioneer new industries and fuel our Information Age, from Google to the iPhone.”

According to the Manhattan Institute, legal immigrants make noticeable contributions to the economy in the following fields: administrative services, agriculture and extraction, construction, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing and other services. Illegal immigrants contribute to the economy in occupations such as farming, fishing and forestry, building and grounds, and construction and mining, comprising “24 percent of all groundskeepers, 23 percent of domestic workers and 20 percent of those in clothing manufacture,” according to the Pew Research Center.

According to the White House archives of President Obama, immigrants help the economy in a number ways: starting businesses, creating jobs, being engineers, scientists and inventors, boosting American workers’ earnings, boosting the need for local consumer goods and much more.

Fiscal Policy Institute says that currently, 18 percent of immigrants are small business owners who create jobs for American workers. The Institute also says that in 2007, about 4.7 million people were employed by immigrant-owned businesses, and these businesses brought in more than 776 billion dollars annually. Immigrants have much to contribute to the U.S. if given the opportunity.