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Here’s why this seemingly narrow legal niche has a far more expansive impact than you might realize.
If you’re American, then statistically, immigration is an issue that has affected your family: America is a nation of immigrants. In 2018, there were more than 44 million immigrants in the U.S., more than any other nation in the world. Taking into account immigrants’ American-born children, the number skyrockets to a staggering 61 million: twenty percent of the entire American population. This, alone, is a reason to understand and appreciate the immigration and naturalization process.
Needless to say, immigration is a heavily politicized issue, with both the Trump Administration and the mainstream media fomenting controversy over, for instance, DACA recission and plans to increase border security. But while it might seem that America, writ large, is hostile to immigrants, the opposite is true. In fact, research shows that Americans feel quite positive about the issue. Per a 2017 Gallup poll, Americans presently hold “more positive views” of the effects of immigration than they did just ten years prior, even with the recent political firestorm on the issue.
This is for good reason: immigration has an undeniably powerful impact on society, from enriching our culture to strengthening familial bonds, boosting the economy, and contributing meaningfully to discourse within higher educational institutions. In short, immigrants make our country – and our lives – better.
Here are three reasons why.
While there seems to be a vague, widespread fear that immigrants will “take” jobs from American-born workers, the opposite is true. Research consistently shows that immigrants are not competing for the same jobs as American-born workers. Immigrants tend to be highly concentrated in STEM fields, while undocumented workers fill an unskilled labor gap.
Further, the presence of immigrants has contributed positively to America’s total economic output and has increased, rather than eliminated, job opportunities. For example, in 2013, immigrants contributed $1.6 trillion to the nation’s total GDP. This is because within local communities, immigrants generate demand for products and services, thus stimulating the businesses that supply them. This is particularly true within robust immigrant communities that generate demand for highly specialized products and services with deep cultural roots. We see this most prominently in the food and beverage industry, as well as entertainment and tourism.
It makes logical sense that a larger and more diverse population would stimulate a larger and more diverse workforce. With the injection of new ideas, customs, and cultures into the fabric of American life comes new business opportunities. The research supports this contention: some of the most prominent entrepreneurs in the nation are immigrants or the immediate descendants of immigrants, particularly in the tech industry. A decade ago, nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their immediate descendants. On this list are tech giants Apple and Google, as well as American institutions McDonald’s, General Electric, and Bank of America.
In North Carolina specifically, the presence of immigrants has substantially filled a talent gap where job availability has outpaced the available workforce. Based on a recent North Carolina Economic Report, in 2018, North Carolina had approximately 1.9 job seekers per available employment opportunity, a record low since 2006. An immigrant presence is a common-sense remedy, and we have written previously on how hiring foreign workers is a plausible way to fill this talent gap.
Immigration has driven a substantial portion of the recent growth within American colleges and universities. According to a 2015 Pew Research study, foreign national students comprised nearly 60 percent of all doctoral degrees in engineering, more than half of all doctorates in computer science, and about half of all doctorates in math and statistics. And in both undergraduate and graduate degrees, foreign students are more concentrated within STEM fields. This means that immigrant and foreign-born workers will likely lead innovation within burgeoning industries.
The presence of international students, staff, and faculty within universities has already enabled the growth of programs, labs, and classes nationwide in growing fields like technology. More than two million immigrants and second-generation American citizens are enrolled in college, making up about 20 percent of total enrollment. As such, American colleges and universities depend upon immigrant and foreign students, faculty, and staff to contribute to new developments in research, teaching, and cultural diversity on campuses.
Economists have found that the presence of immigrants in the workforce elevates the standard of living for all working citizens by enriching the culture within our workforces. Per a 2018 George Mason University Mercatus Center study, immigrants boost the living wage, expand the economy, and tend to be more entrepreneurial than the average American-born citizen.
In the same vein, there is a consensus among economists that immigration increases incomes for immigrants themselves as well as American-born workers. The University of Chicago’s Booth School surveyed a panel of prominent economists and pressed them on the issue of immigration’s impact on the living wage. More than half agreed that admitting immigrants to the nation would make American families “better off” financially despite fears that an influx of immigrants would destroy the job market for skilled workers.
Here are a few key facts about immigration that quell common – and misguided – concerns:
Advocates for Immigrants and Their Families
It is easy to wax poetic about the benefits of immigration, especially its impact on the economy and entrepreneurship. But the reality for thousands of people is that it is just not that easy. Our current immigration policies make it very difficult for immigrant entrepreneurs to leverage their skills and vision. As such, our economy continually loses out on entrepreneurial opportunities brought by foreign-born citizens.
It’s time for change. And while it may not be glamorous, change often starts at the most granular level: with law and policy. There is a complex network of federal laws that contribute to making the many benefits of immigration a reality for individuals and families. And at Bashyam Shah, we are here to help our clients navigate the naturalization process.
For more than 20 years, our team has poured time, energy, and passion into our clients, knowing that every case is an opportunity to make a lasting impact. Immigration is vital to the continued thriving of individuals, families, and society as a whole. The immigration process is a deeply personal one, and we feel deeply rewarded and satisfied to play a substantial role in that process.