When refugees of a military or economic war swarm into a neighboring land, immigration is a problem: as in Lebanon, which took in a million Syrians terrorized by intervention (some of it ours), and then succumbed to the dangerous spread of poverty and unemployment by turning new immigrants away; and in the U.S., where the economic trade war called NAFTA caused displaced Mexican workers to seek simple survival across the border.
But overall, the merits of immigration greatly outweigh the potential disadvantages.
1. Immigrants Are Entrepreneurs
—-In Big Business: A recent study found that immigrants started more than half of current U.S. startups valued at $1 billion or more.
—-In Small Business: According to the Wall Street Journal, immigrants make up 13 percent of the population, but 28 percent of the small business owners.
Immigrants are nearly twice as likely to start businesses than native-born Americans, and, among people with advanced degrees, three times more likely to file patents.
2. Immigrants Are Job Creators
According to an SEC report, “Study after study has shown that immigration and economic growth go hand in hand.”
Research suggests that immigrants raise the standard of living of Americans through higher wages and lower prices. They tend to complement the existing workforce rather than compete with it. For example, the construction work of lower-skilled immigrants allows contracting companies to build more homes.
Amidst all the productivity, there is little evidence that a connection exists between immigration and unemployment rates in the United States.
3. Immigrants Help Developing Neighborhoods
Immigrants boost local economies by starting businesses in developing neighborhoods, especially in Hispanic communities, the fastest growing segment of the immigrant population. In the last three years, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses has grown at an annual rate 15 times that of the rate for all companies.
Hispanics makeup 17 percent of the population but represent 28 percent of small business owners.
4. Immigrants Commit Fewer Crimes
Census data show that native-born Americans are five times more likely to be institutionalized (mostly in prison), in good part because immigrants commit fewer crimes.
A Final Myth Dispelled
The number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. has fallen in recent years. This may be one of our problems: we need more immigrants, not less. We need cultural diversity to stimulate the economy, to make us resilient in times of adversity, and to make us more accepting of people and ideas outside our normal boundaries of comfort.
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