During the presidential election campaign, Donald Trump made several promises, including restructuring the immigration process to limit the number of immigrants entering the country, deporting undocumented immigrants, and building a border wall with Mexico.
Recently, the country saw the longest federal government shutdown, lasting 35 days, because of a impasse over President Trump's demand for over $5 billion to build a U.S.–Mexico border wall. His agenda is clearly to curb immigration and increase deportation, in any way, symbolic or not.
Presently, 15% of the total U.S. population is foreign born, according to the United Nations. Immigration is a much debated topic and there are different political opinions about the effects of immigration on a nation’s economy, though to an extent, it is considered that immigration causes a net economic benefit to the country.
The impact of immigration on U.S. economy:
- About 50 million immigrants live in the United States making it the country with the most number of immigrants.
- An International Monetary Fund report says that a one percentage increase in the country’s migrant population equals a two percent increase in GDP per person. This happens because of the added migrants’ skills to the current pool of talent, thereby increasing productivity and also because of the increase in number of migrants in the workforce as that is the general age group that most migrants fall into.
- Two thirds of U.S.’s economic growth since 2011 has been directly attributed to migration. Immigrants are more likely to start businesses and companies, be responsible for innovations and patents, win awards and prizes. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial.
- 30% of American businesses are started by immigrants.
- 40% of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants.
- 50% of start ups, valued at over $1 billion, are started by immigrants.
- Each such startup employs around 1,200 people.
- Low skilled immigrants also contribute to productivity. Though they may have a language barrier that leads to difficulty in integration in the community, they are still able to contribute to the economy through employment in industries that don’t require a whole lot of communication skills. Like them, a majority of the illegal immigrants seek employment in industries that don’t require a lot of language or communication skills.
- The agriculture industry depends to a large extent on undocumented immigrant labor. In fact, more than half of hired farm workers are unauthorized immigrants.
- Lower wages do affect the already present immigration population and the native population, but it’s argued that most native workers don’t want to take up such jobs. Lower wages indirectly help the economy because it means the employers can fare better and grow thereby contributing to the economy. And a growing economy means more opportunities in the skilled job market for native borns who have better English knowledge and communication skills.
- The U.S. is one of the countries that spends the least for food, and lower wages for farmers means that food costs also go down.
- Though first generation immigrants cost the government more than native borns, the second generation, once they become adults, contribute more to the economy, more than their parents and the others in terms of taxes.
Initially many quickly believe that immigration is detrimental, but the statistics hold true - it is a benefit to us all.
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