Immigrants, people who have moved to a country other than their own, are an important part of American life. They are a source of energy and innovation, and a vital component of our nation’s economy. In addition, they provide a vital link between our country and the countries from which they come.
While a number of myths are associated with immigrants, research and common sense show that they do not steal jobs from American workers or drain government treasuries. Rather, they create jobs by starting new businesses and spending their incomes on American goods and services. They also pay taxes, which help to sustain the economy.
As a result, immigration has been the engine of economic growth and an essential force for social stability throughout our history. It is no wonder, then, that more than 150 million people on the planet say they would like to move to the United States if they had the opportunity.
Although there are many reasons for the global movement of people, the most common is poverty. Poverty can lead to war, civil unrest, natural disasters, and political instability — all of which have a powerful effect on the international migration of people.
In addition, a growing middle class in many nations has made it possible for more of the population to afford the costs and inconveniences of moving from one place to another. This, in turn, has fueled an increase in the demand for international migration.
The United States is the most popular destination for international migrants, with 41 million residents who were born outside the country. More than half of these immigrants live in just 20 metropolitan areas, and the majority are unauthorized – meaning that they came to the United States without proper authorization. This group includes beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status.
Students will identify the common themes of the immigrant experience through a series of teacher-selected primary sources and their own research. These include oral histories, narratives, and the Library of Congress online collections.
For example, students may interview relatives or read memoirs about the challenges and rewards of emigrating to America from their homelands. Students will also learn about how the economic conditions of a new country influence its appeal to potential migrants. This information will be useful to the class as they develop proposals for future immigration policy. It will help them to understand that any changes must be based on solid investigation and analysis, not misguided assumptions about who we are as a nation. In order to do that, they will need accurate information about the economic benefits of immigrants and the costs of restrictive policies that restrict them. This will allow them to be fair and balanced in their considerations of immigration reform. This is especially important because current policies confine millions of immigrants to a shadowy existence and prevent them from fully contributing to the American economy and society.