The topic of immigration has proliferated in U.S. news recently, specifically regarding the U.S.-Mexico border. Harping on the perceived public fear of illegal immigration, politicians have assumed polarized stances on immigration as a whole.
Some politicians state that illegal immigration has contributed to an increase in crime and the economy’s stagnance. President Donald Trump echoed similar sentiments when he tweeted that Democrats “don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest” America.
Others argue that immigrants can benefit the American economy and society and that the government should offer people that have immigrated illegally a pathway to citizenship. Former President George W. Bush stated that “not only do immigrants help build our economy, but they invigorate our soul.” Bernie Sanders said in his run for president that “it is time to create a reasonable path for citizenship” for illegal immigrants. Similarly, recent findings coupled with historical examples demonstrate why immigration is beneficial to our nation.
One famous immigrant was theoretical physicist Albert Einstein who emigrated from Germany. After coming to America, Einstein discovered the theory of relativity and formulated E=mc^2. His contributions to theoretical physics, as well as nuclear physics, are indisputable.
Other immigrants have shaped American consumerism. Born in Buttenheim, Germany, in 1829, Levi Strauss founded Levi’s, a company known for its denim jeans. Strauss later became a notable philanthropist, contributing to the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and Home and the Eureka Benevolent Society, along with donations made to various local organizations following his death in 1902.
Many migrants will often donate generous sums to the underprivileged. Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist George Soros gave $18 billion to Open Society Foundations. According to the Open Society Foundations website, its organization “work[s] to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.” This specific donation comprised nearly 80 percent of Soros’ net worth.
Some U.S. immigrants are politicians. Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger served as governor of California from 2003 to 2011 and was a Hollywood actor and bodybuilder before. Schwarzenegger inspired many Americans to pursue bodybuilding and entertained countless viewers with his roles in Terminator, Predator and several other films. Without him, there would be a gap in both the bodybuilding and film worlds.
The reality is that immigrants are everywhere. They may be your idolized scientists, celebrities or politicians. Immigration is inevitable and will continue to grow this country.
Stemming immigration may stagnate the economy.
Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, a bill which aims to decrease legal immigration but increase highly skilled and educated legal immigrants.
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School’s Penn Wharton Budget Model of the RAISE Act predicted that by 2027, GDP would drop by 0.7 percent. GDP will lower by 2 percent more by 2040 if immigration halves and there will be 4.6 million fewer jobs.
The model projects the RAISE Act to raise per capita GDP 0.02 percent by 2027. It also reports that capital stock will be similar to before the RAISE Act while there will be less workers. However, the model states, given that “immigrants work and contribute to savings,” the per capita GDP will still drop by 0.3 percent by 2040.
In spite of the similarity of capital stock in 2040 to before the RAISE Act, the lack of immigrants will contribute to a decreased GDP.
Immigration may not only increase GDP, but it may spur innovation and productivity.
A 2018 study titled “Migration and the Economy” by Citi GPS: Global Perspectives and Solutions found that from 1990 to 2014, U.S. economic growth would have been 15 percentage points lower without migration. This may have been due to the fact that 75 percent of migrants are working age. They are also responsible for filing more than 40 percent of global patent applications, revealing how immigration boosts innovation.
In an environment of political polarization and anti-immigration rhetoric, some will fear immigration. They will want the people who have illegally immigrated out. And many other citizens will want less overall immigration. However, many of America’s greats were immigrants and immigration will mainly serve to increase innovation, productivity and GDP. If we seek to improve the United States, we must consider further immigration as something positive.