In 2017, 325 million or approximately 15 percent of U.S. residents were immigrants. They contributed approximately $744 billion to total U.S. output and comprised approximately 16 percent of the workforce, more so than they do of the U.S. population. In fact, immigrants made up 18 percent of small business owners, more so than U.S. citizens did.
Furthermore, and contrary to stereotypes, not all immigrants are in low wage jobs. In actuality, approximately half are in white-collar careers, almost as much as the proportion of immigrants in all other job types combined.
Likewise, according to the Migration Policy Institute, immigrants do not reduce citizen employment rates in the long run and in fact have a positive impact on native labor outcomes. They largely cannot qualify for benefit programs such as welfare, Medicare and Medicaid, and thus the notion that they take such resources from Americans is invalid.
Immigration reform makes business sense. According to the Congressional Budget Office, comprehensive immigration reform (increasing programs and legalization pathways for immigrants as well as implementing an E-Verify system) would benefit the U.S. economy through increased tax revenue, job creation, higher wages and deficit reduction. This logic supported Chuck Schumer’s Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 that passed the Senate before dying in the House. This included reforms such as easing the legalization process, implementing a points-based system that would increase talent-based immigration, and creating a $1.5 billion jobs program for immigrant youths, to name a few. According to Macroeconomic Advisers and BPC, comprehensive reform would decrease the federal debt by $570 billion and increase GDP by .5 percent Even changing policy to solely increase and make it easier for high-skilled immigration would decrease the federal debt by $310 billion.
Our country should welcome immigrants and make it easier for them to earn legalization. As it currently stands, the naturalization process is inefficient, expensive and incentivizes immigrants to not apply for citizenship, as doing so means that they will be on record and thus at risk of deportation and/or detainment. Just this year, a record proportion of Forbes’ 30 under 30 winners were immigrants. UConn itself, one of the top public universities in the nation, benefits from its plethora of immigrants from many countries around the world. Immigrants are trailblazers, positive contributors to society and they gratefully utilize the opportunities and freedoms the United States offers them to give back to our country.
Immigrants make America great, but America must meet them halfway with fair immigration policies. It not only is the right thing to do, but also makes business sense.
Christine Savino is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.