Facts – Not Feelings – About Immigration

Facts – Not Feelings – About Immigration

By Robert Scott

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

One of the imperatives in the Bible, in the Torah, and in the Qur’an, is our being enjoined to “Welcome the Stranger.” With the first Presidential Candidate Debate coming up in just a few days, one topic that you can be sure will be discussed (if not beaten into the ground) is immigration. Are we really being “invaded” by hordes of undocumented immigrants? Should we Welcome the Strangers as new Americans, or should we push them away? Are we undergoing a crisis caused by huge numbers of such people in our midst? I read and listen to many sources of information, and one of the best informed among these is Ali Velshi, himself a legal immigrant and a frequent commentator on MSNBC. Here are some immigration facts courtesy of Mr. Velshi, facts that need to be shared more widely.

First, how many immigrants (legal or otherwise), that is, people who were born in some other country, are now in the United States? Some 51 million immigrants live here, more than in any other country. But we have a very large population; as a percentage, only about 14 percent of our population are immigrants, compared with, say, Canada (20 percent) or Australia (30 percent). Those countries not only welcome but seek out immigrants, and both nations, more like the United States than are any other countries, seem to be doing quite well.

Immigrants are not causing an economic crisis, nor have they driven down wages for the rest of us. With unemployment below 4% and wages rising faster than inflation, those who maintain such economic claims are either uninformed or are deliberately misleading us.

Despite anecdotes about immigrants committing crimes, the presence of immigrants among us lowers rather than raises our national crime rates. Mr. Velshi makes that point this way: “While crime is of course committed by every demographic group, Americans who are not native-born commit less of it than native-born Americans, perhaps in some part because they have a unique disincentive — deportation — to do so. In fact, since the 1960s, immigrant men are 60% less likely to be incarcerated than those born in the U.S. The data proves that rampant migrant crime is a feeling, not a fact.” Mathematically, reducing immigration or deporting large numbers of recent immigrants would raise our overall crime rates, not lower them.

We need immigrants if we are to continue to thrive as a nation. Remembering that immigrants make up just 14% of our population, here is how Mr. Velshi lays out the economic facts. “Foreign-born workers comprise 22% of all workers in the U.S. food supply chain, 38% of home health aides, 29% of doctors, 23% of pharmacists and 15.2% of nurses. In STEM fields, more than one-fifth of workers are foreign born, and foreign-bornmigrants are responsible for more than 75% of patents from the top 10 patent-producing U.S. universities. Those patents lead to startups. Those startups lead to jobs. The workers in those jobs pay taxes and consume, and often launch startups of their own.”

When you listen to the upcoming debates, pay attention to how the two candidates describe our country. We truly are a nation of immigrants, and now – in the 21st century – we need to continue that tradition if we are to grow and to thrive.

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