America has always been painted as a land of opportunity, which is why there are so many people in the world scrambling for the opportunity to get a foot through the door. Some who have the financial stability to go through legal means apply for an EB-5 Visa, while others use the less conventional way of crossing the border through Mexico. However, after President Trump’s tightening of the border, it does seem as though America is becoming less “land of opportunity” and more of a “land of oppression”.
A large percentage of immigrants find refuge in America to escape the poverty in their home countries. It is those very people who need financial and health assistance the most. However, with the new legislation passed by the current president, which will take away green card benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing assistance. While this may seem like “justice” to some, it should also be noted that immigrants take up the jobs that nobody else wants to do in America and they pay taxes, same as everybody else.
In 2015 alone TheStranger reports that, “undocumented immigrants alone paid at least $23.6 billion in income taxes, which funds social services that they cannot even use. We shouldn’t be deporting these people; we should be thanking them and giving them green cards”.
Claiming that “our country is full” is a short-sighted proclamation. One that would lead America into devastation. It is a relief that it seems the president is unable to truly stem the flow of immigrants making their way into the land of the free through the Mexican border which is almost 2000 miles long. Despite the president’s mounting frustrations, there is simply too many for border patrol to realistically control. Thousands of immigrants were forced to be released as many more take their space in holding areas.
Immigrants are a vital part of the American economy and if you remove them all, you will be removing approximately 30% of the working force. This will bring unemployment rates to new levels, as America is already facing a shortage of workers who are interested in working back-breaking positions or fill up labourer roles. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office believes that it is immigrants which are making the country richer and without them, the country will shrink. He has advised Republican presidential candidates and now leads the conservative American Action Forum.
With the falling birthrates, and Americans marrying later and later, the workforce is slowly diminishing. Currently, there are 7.3 million jobs that need to be filled across the nation and there are 6 million unemployed people, including the homeless and those that are unable to work. This gap will only continue to increase as the older generation workforce retires with no new workers to replace them. This is why immigrants are crucial to the economy, without them, the future of America is beginning to look quite bleak.
Imagine a country that has a construction industry void of workers, who will you send for if you need repairs? What if you want to install that deck around your house? Who will be building homes for the next generation? This is what will happen if immigation is put to a complete stop and it will affect not just one industry, but many across the nation.
Another contribution of immigrants to the economy is how they create a demand for more jobs. While many Americans have complained about the problem of immigrants “stealing their jobs”, the opposite is true. While immigrants are a competitive factor in the workforce, they also generate a demand that needs to be filled. More houses, more developments, groceries, childcare, etc. Furthermore, immigration offers cheap labour which means that more households are capable of affording drivers or domestic help which only the affluent were able to afford. This luxury or convenience would not be as accessible if immigration did not play such a big part in the American economy.
At the end of the day, immigration in America is essentially a two way street. Not in the sense that there’s a back and forth flow of migration, but that where immigrants take up jobs, they create new demands as well. In allowing immigrants into the country, it helps it flourish in terms of economic value and injects more life into a dwindling population. Americans and their president should learn to see the bigger picture rather than focus on the “downsides” that immigration has brought to the country. While we cannot deny that there is a strain on the healthcare system and support system that America has in place for the millions of homeless and disabled in their country to support the immigrants that have come with empty pockets and sick children, we must also remember that these people are the hope for the future generation. They arrive in America with the potential for contributing, and they will build up the economy, one immigrant at a time.