Immigrants and the Economy

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Many people around the world make one of the most difficult decisions in life: leaving the home they know to live somewhere new — sometimes temporarily, for just a few years, and other times permanently. They do this for all sorts of reasons – whether they are fleeing war, poverty, hunger, or persecution on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They leave their families, friends, and familiar way of life behind in hopes of finding a place where they can be safe and build a better future for themselves and their loved ones. Those who make this difficult decision are called immigrants.

International migration, and the people who are involved in it, have become the center of public discussions and political debates in countries around the world. To help promote a more accurate understanding of this population and constructive conversations about their needs, it is important to understand basic terminology and key facts about this group.

Immigrants are internationally mobile and can flow into economies with relative workforce shortages, helping to relieve bottlenecks that might otherwise slow growth. In addition, immigration allows the economy to adjust in the face of changing demographics. The children of immigrants are a vital source of young workers, allowing the country to maintain its economic competitiveness and offset the retirement of baby boomers. Moreover, they pay billions in taxes each year and are far more likely to work than to use government benefits.

The common perception is that immigration harms the economy by taking jobs away from American workers, but this view is flawed. For example, while it is true that immigrants often take low-wage jobs, this does not affect the overall employment rate. In fact, a recent study found that immigrants paid more than $90 billion in taxes each year and received only $5 billion in welfare.

In addition, immigrant households are more likely to be owners and to spend money on things like education, housing, and health care than native-born families. In addition, the second generation of immigrant children contributes much more in taxes than their parents and other native-born Americans do.

These are just a few of the many ways that the economy benefits from the millions of people who have left their homes for all kinds of reasons to make the United States their new home. As such, it is critical to recognize the benefits of immigrants and avoid overstating their costs. This can only happen if we recognize that the word “immigrant” is not an expletive and instead looks at these people as fellow human beings who are coming to our country for all of the right reasons.