Essay on effects of immigration in the United States

The economy and labor force are two of the most hotly discussed aspects of immigration in the United States. There are an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States today, and their impact on the country's economy can be favorable or detrimental. The overall effect, however, is ambiguous, and this essay will provide both sides of the dispute. The increasing number of immigrants who have entered our country has had an impact on several economic aspects. Population expansion in this country has had a direct impact on our economy. The rate of increase in population and how equipped the United States is to handle this growth could lead to many different effects on the economy that could be considered as either productive or destructive to our economy. Throughput for more goods and services could increase due to the upsurge in demand, or it could result in the contrary where demand could decrease because of so many people and lack of economic stability. Innumerable repercussions are originating from the increased immigration in the US. Nevertheless, population growth is not the only factor contributing in the aftermath of our economy. The increase in immigration will ultimately have an effect on our government programs as well. Immigrants, just as natives do, will also use funds provided by Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and various other welfare systems such as food stamps. This will have a substantial impact on the economic stability of both state and federal governments. Various financial burdens could be as a result of the increased need for our welfare system from immigration. Another factor contributing to the present economic status is the current structure in the labor markets. There exists a vast difference of opinion on the actual economic effects on both sides of this argument. It could be said that immigration has had an excessive impact on our job market and has even made our economy gain from the increased productivity by the immigrant workers. On the other hand, many could argue that immigration has resulted in an extreme effect on our job market since immigrants are occupying jobs that should belong to American citizens. Either side of the argument on immigration contains valid points that are worth discussing and considering in the debate over economic effects that immigrants pose on this country. There are various arguments and differing viewpoints on this complex subject. However, the attempt throughout this paper will involve balanced arguments from both sides of the issue concerning economic effects in the result of increased population from immigration, how our welfare and government-funded programs have been affected by immigration economically, and the economic consequences that immigration has had on our labor markets. Population growth has occurred immensely throughout the world and projected tracts show a considerable increase within the United States and throughout the world through the year 2050. Population growth at an overwhelming rate has caused countless effects on a society. More people within the United States can generate only fewer resources for citizens comparatively. To increase these resources, we must be prepared to produce more, and to achieve this we ought to use our economic resources. Immigration into the United States has been so prevalent during the past few decades that it has had a significant effect on the growth rate of our population. “If immigration continues at its present level, the U.S. population will grow to 387 million people by 2050; this is 124 million more people than there are today in the United States. Immigration would account for two-thirds of this growth within our population.” (3) Overall U.S. Economy Gain from Immigration, But It is Costly to Some States and Localities. This increase in population growth as a result of a vast number of immigrants could have a significant effect our entire economy. Within these immigrant groups who have entered the United States, the rise in fertility rates along with older immigrants migrating to this country will have a significant influence on our economy also. “Immigrants may cause an increase in the fertility rate, while on the other, older immigrants may add to the burden of any number of social programs.” (4) Legal U.S. Immigration, Influence on Gender, Age, And Skill Composition. Since older people are living longer and an increased number of older immigrants are entering this country at a later age, this will result in more assistance from social programs. Besides owing to the older immigrants within the U.S. population, there are many children of immigrants who are born within the country everyday at an alarming rate. “Immigration will also lead to an increase number of children in the population. Under current levels of immigration, the number of children in kindergarten through eighth grade will increase by 17 million, from $36.8 million to $53.7 million, by the year 2050. This would have a considerable effect on our state and local governments economically.” (3) Overall U.S. Economy Gain From Immigration, But It Is Costly To Some States And Localities. If a child is born within the United States by an authorized or unauthorized immigrant that child is considered to be a U.S. citizen and the government is responsible for the welfare and assistance to child and their families if they are in need. "In the state of New York, 70 percent of households with children headed by undocumented immigrants contain citizen children. Seventy-five percent of all children in immigrant households headed by a non-citizen are citizens.” (8) Fix, Zimmermann, Passel. Pg. 21-22. This is a growing problem that adds to the strain of a population that is already overcrowded and economically burden because of it. Population growth is not only occurring among immigrants, but it does add to an already aggravated problem that is escalating within the United States. Immigrants that arrive in the United States bring their families or start one; those families have children, their children have children and this pattern continues year after year contributing to an overpopulated society. Population growth in America has emerged a serious problem and immigration is a pressing issue in this situation. Immigration is not the sole cause of the rising population of the United States, but the issue of immigration has visually contributed enough to bring this matter to attention with many people in America. Immigrants have been part of the growing population for many years. Just in the past decade concern has been raised on the issue of how immigration has affected are social programs and if immigration has caused a considerable increase in cost to our economy. “One of the most ongoing debated questions from as early as the 1990’s was whether immigrants “pay their way” in the United States. Do the taxes immigrants pay cover the cost of public services they use, including schools, welfare, healthcare, and transportation systems?” (1) Martine & Midgley pg. 31. These are all important factors to consider when examining the actual effects that immigration has brought to our economy. Schools are a major issue because of the increased fertility rate among immigrants who enter this country. State governments are responsible for these children as part of the local school system that they have legally become a part of by being born within our borders. Costs in some states from increased birth rates of immigrants have almost tripled and have caused local governments to overspend on their projected budget. “California argued that they were spending more than $5 billion per year, 10% of their budget to provide services to illegal immigrants and their U.S. born children. Almost 40 percent of these funds went to give education through high school to an estimated 350,000 unauthorized students." (1) Martine & Midgley pg. 31. Services such as education provided to the immigrant families are paid for by local governments in various different states. “The majority of American immigrants live in six states: California, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Florida, and Illinois.” (3) Overall U.S. economy gain From Immigration, But It’s Costly To Some States And Localities. This puts a considerable strain on the economy of certain states and eventually affects the rest of the country. Welfare is another economic drain on our economy. While immigration does not fully contribute to this matter, it does have a significant effect overall. Many immigrants enter this country with lack of education, little resources, and jobless. This aspect compels the facilitators to acquire some assistance from a variety of government fund programs. Welfare can include food stamps, Social Security benefits, and various other programs such as WICK and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Refugees are the primary recipients of this aid. “Refugees are entitled to this assistance immediately upon entry into this country.” (2) Recipient Of Welfare And Other Government Expenditures. This would explain a high rate of use in support among immigrants who are located in this country. As a result, the United State's economic burden of welfare is increased by the constant arrival of immigrants. The United States has always experienced an economic burden from welfare but as immigration has increased so has the deficit within our economy. Welfare systems are ideally set up to assist people in need for a moderate amount of time until they can gain economic control over their financial liabilities. Far too many times as many natives do, immigrants will rely on our welfare services for a considerable amount of time. This in turn causes a significant economic strain on our government resources and our country's economic status. This is economic problem is nationwide and involves many different factors, but one factor that should be closely looked at is the amount of aid that is being received by immigrants who enter this country. Health care costs are also on the rise and Medicare and Medicaid are part of this very costly health care that is paid through tax dollars to many immigrants that arrive in this country. “For Medicaid it is reasonable to assume higher expenditures for immigrants than for natives. Both welfare and Medicaid programs reflect immigrants being poorer on an average than residents. Costs per person for Medicaid are about $627 for residents and $752 for immigrants.” (2) Recipient Of Welfare And Other Government Expenditures. The difference in cost is not an overwhelming amount that is spent on immigrants to natives, but when the number ofimmigrants is factored into the total sum of expenditures that are spent on Medicaid, there is a significant amount of cost that could be reduced if the immigrants who received welfare could be limited to a lower amount. “Foreign-born persons taken altogether have a 10-20 percent higher probability of obtaining these goods and services than do natives.” (2) Recipient Of Welfare And Other Government Expenditures. This is a problem that grows every year with increased immigration. Welfare for elderly immigrants who enter this country is also on the rise. Since many are living longer because of improved technology or the timing of their arrival in the United States, this has resulted in a higher rate in welfare recipients among elderly immigrants. “Among foreign-born persons aged 65 years and over a growing proportion receive welfare than among natives. This is a result of some immigrants having arrived too late to qualify for Social Security benefits, but can receive welfare payments as a substitute for Social Security.” (2) Recipient Of Welfare And Other Government Expenditures. Our welfare system has always incurred economic instability throughout the government in a result of so many people signed up for the welfare system. Data has shown that immigration has not had a large effect on the welfare system, but one could wonder how much our debt could decrease if immigration and the acceptance of social services could be limited. Labor markets within the United States have had a significant effect on America's economic status and also affected the financial stability of the American people. Immigration has had a considerable influence over our job markets. Depending on who you talk to the economic effects of immigration has either helped the economy in many ways or has had many adverse effects. “The overall impact of immigrant workers on US workers is small. Immigration is interwoven with a decline in agriculture, garments, and shoes, etc. Falling wages have led Americans to abandon these jobs, creating job openings for immigrants. Immigration creates government jobs for US workers, jobs for similar immigrants in ethnic groups, and an overall increase in jobs to provide housing and other services immigrants consume.” (5) Economic Uncertainty Motives Rethinking Immigration Policy.Not everyone in America feels this way about immigration and the effects it has on our job market. The labor movement has especially had problems with issues on immigrants in our workforce. Immigration affects national, regional, and local labour force conditions throughout the nation. Many supporters of the labor movement believe that immigration has had a negative effect on labor markets. "Throughout its lengthy history, no other issue has caused the American labor movement more agony than immigration has. Organized labor support for immigration causes would be adverse to the interests of those Americans workers who do not belong to the unions and would face increased competition for jobs as well as legal suppression pressures.” (6) American Unionism And U.S. Immigration Policy. Although this may be true, immigrants do not usually hold high-waged jobs, and they do not work for most union jobs. As mentioned earlier, immigrants often occupy jobs that natives have no interest in undertaking. This limits competition and keeps our economy flowing by having unwanted jobs filled at all times. Immigrants that hold jobs in the United States may encounter problems with the public and within their own work environment. There have been many complaints of mistakes made by immigrant workers because of lack of knowledge and limited efficiency with the English language. “Nearly one out of every four consumers encountered problems in the past year because a businessperson or retail employee spoke poor English according to a USA/CNN/Gallup Poll. Economists say that the lack of English proficiency among immigrants costs businesses more than $175 billion a year due to lost productivity, wages, tax revenue, employment compensation, and work-related miscommunication.” (7) Language Barrier Problems. This poses a significant problem for many business owners who do not want to sacrifice their money and service for immigrant workers, but at the same time must also worry about fair and balanced employment procedures and the threat of lawsuits against businesses who try to fire these immigrant workers who are performing at a low skill level and who are costing the businesses money because of the lack of their qualifications. Many of these lawsuits have already been to court, and there are many more cases on their way for review. "Experts say discrimination lawsuits based on language proficiency are rising and the tribunals are onlyjust beginning to struggle with them.” (7) Language Barrier Problems. This could lead to an enormous amount spent by companies in court costs alone, not to mention the already sacrificed $175 billion already lost because of the issue to begin with. Immigrant workers in the United States remain a complicated issue on the subjects of economic gain or loss for the economy. Immigrants are part of a large working industry involving agriculture, service, and factories. Many believe that without immigrant workers these industries would suffer a considerable economic loss. "Immigrant labor allows many goods and services to be produced more cheaply and provides the workforce for some businesses that otherwise could not exist. For instance, immigration has helped build and maintain America’s textile and agriculture industries. Other firms that employ many immigrants such as restaurants and household services would not exist on the same scale without immigrant workers. Most immigrants work in specific sectors of the economy such as manufacturing and service industries and compete primarily for jobs with each other and with Americans who do not hold a high school diploma.” (3) Overall U.S. Economy Gain From Immigration But Its Costly To Some States And Localities. This is one side of a very complicated issue. Many throughout our nation support support for immigrants who work within our labor forces. Economic growth and stability are prevalent to those who support the existence of immigrant workers in our labor markets. Opposition against this aid for immigrant workers is just as high as there is for support on this issue. Many people throughout our nation believe that effects on labor markets have had an adverse economic impact on our economy in the result on immigration, but at the same time realizes that immigrant workers cannot and will not be limited within the nation. “Labors have significantly influenced the actual public policies that have shaped the size and character of immigrant entries. If organized labor seeks restrictions on immigration levels as well as the active enforcement of prevailing laws, it is at risk for alternating itself from immigrants and makes it difficult to organize them. If organized labor welcomed immigrants, endorsed liberal admission policies, and favored little enforcement against violators, the result is that segments of the labor supply are inflated and ensuring market pressures make it harder to win economic gains." (6) American Unionism And U.S. Immigration Policy. This places non-supporters of immigrant workers in a very hard situation. Whether they support current immigration policy or try to enforce and change immigration policy, either way, they lose. The labor market debate on the effects of immigration economically is one that will soon not end and will be very hard to reform or change.There are so many issues and factors that surround this ongoing debate that it is hard to know how to feel about the issue or what side to be on. Immigrants who enter this country legally should be entitled the right to hold a job and be fairly treated by their employer. On the other side of the issue, it has been demonstrated that immigrants have been a strain on labor markets in a result of lack of skills and poor English. This has cost many businesses lots of money and the support of many consumers. It would be virtually impossible to limit immigrant workers and also unfair at the same time. Most immigrants come to this country for a chance to improve their economic stability and to make a better life for themselves and their families. Immigrants must work so they can provide for themselves and their families. A solution to limit immigrant workers would result in the limitation of immigrants that enter this country every day. This would have a considerable effect on many economic problems that the United States deals with on a daily basis. As our nation has grown into an industrialized nation, so has the immigration that has followed this growth of the workforce. Immigration has had a tangible effect on the United States economy. Different sources believe dissimilar outcomes of these economic consequences, but the consensus is clear that immigration has had a prevalent impact on our economy. The federal government views immigration as a growth to our financial stability. State and local governments of various states would see immigration as a significant strain to their future economic growth. While labor unions are clearly against immigration, many studies have shown a positive effect from immigration on our service, agriculture, and industrial industries. Our immigration laws have become very easy, and in a result, immigration has taken over the United States in many ways including economically. The immigration flow into the United States is in need of more control and a better system of how to handle immigrants once they enter our country should be implemented. Immigration has benefited our nation in many ways including economically. To say that immigration should be eliminated entirely would not be a wise economic decision. Immigrants fill many unwanted jobs, contribute to revenue and help our nation succeed in a global economy. Immigration needs to be balanced and controlled. With a limit on immigration, our country could grow economically and recover financially from the economic effects of uncontrolled immigration. Issues are complex, and feelings are strong towards any movement made for or against immigration. There are many different ways for this issue to be handled but it is up to our policy makers and the citizens of the United States to get involved and voice opinions on what should be done to improve our immigration system. Economically our country has been affected by immigration and all of the factors that surround their presence in our nation. Outcomes economically in a result of immigration have been mixed, and it is hard to draw a clear conclusion on the actual product, and ill effects immigration has had on our economy. The difference of opinions on this matter will be strong as long as immigration continues throughout our nation. Outlook and opinions vary on the complex issue of immigration. One fact is certain; the debate over the economic effects of immigration on the United States will be of great concern on both sides of the issue for many years to come.


1. Martin, Philip, and Midgley, Elizabeth. Population Bulletin. Immigration to theThe United States. Population Reference Bureau: Vol. 54, No. 2 pg. 31-32.2. www.cato.org3. www.4nationalacademies.org4. www.upjohninst.org5. migration.ucdavis.edu6. www.cis.org7. www.ncpa.org8. Fix, Michael, Zimmermann, Wendy, and Passel, Jeffery S.The Integration of Immigrant Families in the United States. The Urban Institute.July 2001.

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