Illegal Immigration and the Economy

Powerful Essays
A major national debate rages over U. S. government control of immigration and the impact foreign workers exert on the country’s economy. Sometimes the rhetoric reflects on the benefits but more often it focuses on the burdens being forced on society. While conversations range from bland indifference to outright hostility, the loudest and most incendiary opinions drown out the more moderate voices and dominate the tone and tenor of the dialog.

Americans are uncertain about how immigration is affecting the US economy and this is apparent in the conversation. Most analysts, after considering all aspects, agree both legal and illegal immigrants produce a slight, yet positive, net gain of about one tenth of 1 percent in the gross domestic product. The most significant benefits come from lower labor costs and this translates into reduced prices for every commodity they handle. Consumers save on hundreds of purchases from produce and food products to new homes. The nation’s GDP gets a boost when visiting workers replace the growing number of retired seniors. And, the contributions from today’s expanded work force make it easier for Social Security to pay benefits to future retirees.

So, are immigrants bad for the economy?

Economists say immigrants are not a drag on the economy. So, the question is not whether they are detrimental to the country. The bigger mystery is why many people do not see all of the positive economic benefits and choose to blame immigrants for so many of the country’s woes. Why did 74% of the respondents in a New York Times/CBS News poll mistakenly think illegal immigrants weaken the economy? [3]Why, in discussions about the pros and cons, is there a huge gap between the public’s perception and the ...

... middle of paper ..., autoworkers, secretaries, and salesmen. Responsibility for America’s mortgage foreclosures should not be shifted to foreign workers by those unwilling to explore the real causes. Widespread hostility should give way to the truth. Immigrant workers, whether they are documented or not, produce a slight, yet positive, increase for the economy and a fair measure of benefits to retail and service oriented consumers. The conversation needs to include a hint of gratitude.

Works Cited



(2) Douglas S. Massey and Magaly Sanchez R., Brokered Boundaries, (Russell Sage Foundation, June 2010).


[4] Kenneth Scheve and Matthew Slaughter, Globalization and Perceptions of American Workers (Peterson Institute, 2001)

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