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The Implications of Immigration in America Today

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ÐŽ§The Implications of Immigration in America TodayЎЁ


ÐŽ§Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" (Lazarus, 1883)

These famous lines from LazarusÐŽ¦s The New Colossus are carved at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. The idea they herald has been the bellwether of our nation since its inception when people were needed to populate our fledgling, sparsely populated nation. We became known as the melting pot of the world as cultures from around the world melded together to make a unique culture different from any other ever created in the history of time. However, as the worldÐŽ¦s population has been growing exponentially in the 20th and 21st century, and as travel to our shores has become less rigorous, and our own native Americans have become more numerous due to better survival rates from the advancements in medicine, we are faced with something our forefathers never foresaw 200 + years ago.

How many people can America support before the quality of life, the quality of the environment, and the infrastructure of our nation suffers? We must face the fact that there is a limit to what our great countryÐŽ¦s resources and industries can sustain? However, can a country that has always been the beacon of freedom turn their back on the oppressed? How can we make immigration fair to native Americans while considering the plight of the worldÐŽ¦s downtrodden?

These are the weighty issues, which we have attempted to address in the following paper as we look at the social and business pros and cons facing the issue of immigration in the face of 21st century America.

Let us take a closer look at the social implications of immigration. On the pro side, America has always

embodied the land of dreams for the poor peoples of the world. Today there are close to 100 million people

living and often working outside their countries of citizenship, making this ÐŽ§nation of migrantsЎЁ equivalent in

size to the worldÐŽ¦s 10th most populous country. Most of the worldÐŽ¦s migrants cross national borders to improve their economic outlook. It must have worked because immigrants in the U.S. alone sent home over $60 billion last year. Many immigrants do not have the standard of living that most Americans enjoy when they reach our shores. They must live in overcrowded houses, often eagerly take menial jobs and must work to overcome a language barrier and many other obstacles, yet they endure because they have come from such a level of poverty or oppression that they are willing to persevere by working at the most difficult menial tasks for the lowest wages to enjoy the American dream. These immigrants bring a strong work ethic and an acceptance and understanding of the hardships of meager circumstance one must endure to attempt to better oneself. This immigrant philosophy has been the fiber that has made our nation great.

Socially we have to ask, however, can our country take the additional strain of high levels of immigration?

Our population was just over 200 million in the 1970 census and the rate of population increase is about one percent per year---with no change, we may add another 300 million residents over the next seventy years. In 1970, 1 in every 20 was foreign born. In 2006, the comparable level is nearly one in every eight residents. This trend will continue unless we change our immigration policies.(Martin & Fogel, 2006, p. 2) What does a high rate of immigration mean to our growing dependence on petroleum products? What happens when underground aquifers of fresh water begin to run dry? How can we reduce global warming and greenhouse emissions when we are adding 3 million more residents every year? In addition, what about the unquantifiable changes in our quality of life brought on by these large increases in numbers?

The National Academy of Science did a detailed study of the effects of immigration and the fiscal costs and

negative social policy effects of the current large-scale immigration .

Among the NAS study findings are:

„П Immigration is the driving force behind rapid population growth.

„П Immigration has a negative impact on lower-skilled less educated Americans

„П Immigration is exacerbating the wealth gap

„П Immigration has contributed to the increase in high school dropouts.

„П Immigration-headed households use more in government services than they contribute in state and local taxes

„П Immigration is a substantial tax burden to native households, especially in states with large immigrant populations.

„П Immigrants (on average) earn lower incomes, than natives, but have larger families, pay less in taxes and receive more in public assistance.

Immigration currently accounts for 37% of U.S. population growth (when the children of immigrants born here are included, the Census Bureau says that raises the share of population growth to over 50%) The study shows that immigrants will account for 2/3 of the additional 120 to 150 million people that we are supposed to accommodate, is this fair the native born Americans? How will the burgeoning influx of immigrants affect school budgets, quality of education, municipal services and crime rates?(The New Americans, 1997, p. 5)

Economically, immigration also has its pros and cons. On the pro side, it has often been said that without immigrants the U.S. economy would grind to a halt. What would happen if the 100,000 to 200,000 new and mostly illegal farm workers currently joining the farm work force disappeared? There would be upward pressure on farm wages and the cost of produce and many food items for most Americans would see a marked increase. Business people believe that economies and labor markets are flexible. This means that if immigrants arrive seeking jobs, they will make places for themselves. The normal way a flexible economy makes room for immigrants



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