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Immigrants: Are They Really Stealing Our Jobs?

“They are stealing our jobs!” “When they send their people, they’re are not sending their best. ”This outcry was articulated in 2016 and still echoes in the social conversation, not only in the US, but in a global context as well: from Greece refusing entry of women migrants with hijabs to the Danish government posting advertisements in many languages along the border stating “Don’t come to Denmark” highlighting the harsh systems in place for immigrants. However, opposition to immigrants is as old as America itself. Though the recent political climate seems to have construed immigration in negative fashion, America has been known to historically have a nativist smudge on its record. In the 1750s, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Those who come hither are generally of the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation. ” (Merelli) The first act on immigration in the U. S. was in 1882, when California pushed for the Chinese Exclusion Act: a policy that banned “those of the undesirable Asian-race” from the US. Even in the 1920s carrying over until the 1940s, immigration was based on complexion, making “white” a coveted complexion for migrants. In 1922, Japanese Americans Takao Ozawa and Takuji Yamashita, brought their naturalization cases to the Supreme Court, petitioning that Japanese people were white skinned. The court ruled that the term “white person” could only be denoted to people who were Caucasian.

The case was later brought before the Supreme Court again by a Sikh man Bhagat Singh and given the same ruling that the man did not meet the common understanding of being Caucasian. Nevertheless, this new war-cry against immigrants has not solely been based upon bigotry or racial tension: it all boils down to economics. “They are stealing the jobs of hard working Americans” is an everyday phrase thrown around, not only in politics, but in casual conversation amongst people’s social networks. The logic behind the phrase is that by adding more people into the country there more competition for the already limited amount jobs, leaving Americans with the short end of the stick. However, is that the reality? Jobs, contrary to popular belief, are not a finite resource. In fact, restricting immigration can hurt the job market. Currently, America has an economic growth rate of 2%, which means about 5 million jobs are created every year, however labor market participation remains low. This means that though many jobs exist, few are actively seeking to be employed. Dr. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an economist at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, states that “immigrants increase economic efficiency by reducing labor shortages in low and high-skilled markets because their varied educational backgrounds fill holes in the native-born labor market. ” (Furchtgott-Roth, par. 7). In simpler terms, imagine if as a bookstore manager, you need ten workers to aid in sales and productivity. If you pay to advertise the job openings over an extended period of time and receive only five workers, you are less likely to offer more job openings next year because the company had a net loss. However, if five native-born applied for the job and five immigrants applied as well, it encourages the you to offer more jobs the next year because the bookstore’s profit (increased productivity and sales) outweighs the cost (job advertisement fees).

Additionally, it is often viewed that immigrants solely remove income from others, however, statistically, many immigrants create millions of jobs across the U. S. to be exact, about 33,000 permanent jobs have been created by immigrant founders and over 1,523,00 jobs have been created by people not born in the United States. For example, 51% unicorns (companies worth one billion dollars or more) were founded by immigrants (McCready, par. 5). This includes many companies such as Google, Chobani, Intel, Nordstrom, Tesla, and Yahoo, and this only names a few of the companies that many Americans cannot imagine living without (Cain, par. 3). A survey by FundersClub, an online startup investing platform, found that a single immigrated Funder Club Founder created 159 U. S. jobs on average. Besides the economic support immigrants provide the country, they improve the overall welfare of the nation. On average, 50% of immigrants come to the U. S. with a bachelor degree or more, and of the immigrants that do not have a degree, 43% come to the U. S. seeking a higher education. Education plays a great role forming a thriving nation; in social sciences and political sciences it is widely agreed upon that investing in human capital through education, is the best solution to social issues and controversies. This concept is proven through the many feats American immigrants have done.

Over 75% of pharmaceutical patents were created by nonnative scientists and every American Noble Peace Prize winner in 2016 was an immigrant. Being an immigrant from Kenya myself, I understand that this may seem biased or based on a staunched ideology or political belief, however it is difficult to argue against the statistics of the many positive impacts immigration can bring. Unanimously, economics agree that immigration has more benefits for a country than consequences. Economists have spoken up on the importance of immigration at the United Nations 2018 General Assembly. Nearly 1,500 public sector economists from across the political spectrum wrote to President Trump and Congressional leaders in April of last year extolling the benefits immigrants bring to the country and implored the government modernize the immigration system (Blanco, par. 2).

In the 1908, the United States coined the term “melting pot” to describe the fusion of nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities. It was used to finally answer the question many prominent American scholars asked to the nation: who are we? Each person adds their unique experiences and cultural aspects to the greater whole of the nation, however it is important the United States takes a step back and acknowledge how each “ingredient” benefits them as a whole.

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