The United States is known as a melting pot because of the various cultures that call the country home. Here are the economic benefits of immigration in America.
It’s been an age-old debate that has resulted in everything from verbal warfare to legislative acts. And with the recent travel bans and potential downfall of the DACA program, it is a conversation we must revisit.
Do immigrants help or hurt our society?
Here, we’ll discuss the benefits of immigration. We’ll also explore misconceptions and come to a greater understanding of the country known as “the melting pot.”
The Benefits of Immigration
US Attorneys agree immigration laws that let foreigners into the country are complex. But they also claim the benefits of immigration in America are many.
While many criticize and even stereotype against people of other cultures, immigrants’ willingness to come to the United States offers natives many economic advantages.
Before anything is mentioned, we must first address an important and often criticized point: immigrants bring bits of their homeland to the US, and that is not a bad thing.
Whether it is the knowledge needed to make tamales from scratch or the celebration of Bastille Day, the rich heritage each immigrant brings to the country is vibrant with new ideas that can be shared with the world.
Instead of rejecting this knowledge, it is best to embrace it. After all, ethnocentrism may be one of the greatest fuels for war.
The Power of Fear
Much of the Third Reich’s power stemmed from the fears Germany’s economic downturn inspired in its people. Placing blame and encouraging visions of superiority resulted in the deaths of as many as 6 million Jewish people.
The Rwandan Genocide in the 1990s was rooted in nationalism and ethnocentrism, as well. In a matter of three months, hundreds of thousands of citizens were killed and millions were driven from their homes in what quickly became one of the worst humanitarian crises of the century.
Welcoming new cultures deepens our knowledge and traditions, garnering a fuller understanding of people, the world, and its many complexities.
When fear of the unknown drives our actions, we may not realize what we have lost.
One need only consider the case of the Essex, the whaling ship that inspired the famous novel, Moby Dick, to see this clearly.
Stranded 3,000 miles off the coast of Chile, the sailors of the Essex watched their ship capsize.
They had two choices. The first option was to sail towards the winds 1,500 miles south, which might take them to South America. The second was to reach the Marquesas Islands, which were 1,200 miles away and full of (stories said) cannibalistic savages.
They chose to take the longer route. The consequences?
Half of the crew died. Many of the remaining resorted to cannibalism to stay alive.
Ingrained within the knowledge of different ways of life is the ability to perceive the world through new eyes.
Anthropologist, author and photographer Wade Davis states, “Just to know that Jaguar shamans still journey beyond the Milky Way, or the myths of the Inuit elders still resonate with meaning, or that in the Himalaya, the Buddhists still pursue the breath of the Dharma, is to really remember the central revelation of anthropology, and that is the idea that the world in which we live does not exist in some absolute sense.”
Comprehending these perceptions and interesting notions about other cultures, which tilt and twist the world into various new and beautiful angles, leads to spectacular ideas.
The yoga and meditation that is so often practiced today originated in Eastern Asia.
The pasta and pizza we eat found its way across the sea through Italian immigrants, creating the Americanized versions we consume today.
And then there’s the coffee we drink, which was prized and coveted in Arabia until a sixteenth-century Indian pilgrim brought the beans to Europe.
Everything we are, everything we do, has resulted from communication, from our curiosity of the world and our willingness to test new waters.
On the economic scale, the benefits of immigration in the US are astounding.
Due to the low wages many people of other countries receive, lower prices on everyday items and services are possible.
One study found that a 10% increase in immigrants within the labor force resulted in a 2% decrease in items and services associated with immigrant-dominated jobs.
Because they are willing to work for lower wages, competitive pricing is an option.
The Myth of Job Theft
Yes, immigrants take positions in the US that could be otherwise filled by native workers.
However, several studies indicate many of these jobs are not desired by Americans. In a 2011 study conducted by North Carolina, the state promoted over 6,500 jobs through the North Carolina Grower’s Association.
Only 268 of the 489,000 unemployed in the state applied for the positions. A few over 160 began work and only seven completed the season.
The lower wages also promote expansion and growth in the business sector, most especially in farming.
Farmers would not be able to offer the low prices on produce we see today without the benefits of immigration, nor would many smaller companies be able to stay in business.
Without the competitive prices, markets look elsewhere for services and items.
Furthermore, people from other countries have profound impacts on new businesses. Over half the billion dollar companies in the US are founded by immigrants.
Likewise, foreign students earn half of America’s Ph.Ds, which boosts money funneling into educational systems, and launch over a quarter of new US businesses.
America may be one of the world’s powerhouses, but it ranks comparably low on the educational scale.
Many other countries around the world provide a better education, especially where science and math are concerned. It explains why foreign students have more published insights than American students.
This results in greater developments in science and engineering.
In fact, immigrants “patent at double the native rate,” according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Their study found that a 1% increase in foreign graduate students would cause new patents to increase 6%.
In today’s technologically-focused economy, this can only mean good things.
Increased Social Services Funds
A common misconception is that more immigrants result in more taxes or money being needed in social welfare.
It’s quite the opposite.
Studies show immigrants actually contribute more money to social services than the average American.
This is partly because the immigrant population is made up of many working-age individuals. Their taxes contribute to social service programs.
Furthermore, fewer immigrants than many expect actually utilize social welfare programs.
In 2009, immigrants paid $115.2 billion more in Medicare than they took out. Comparatively, Americans had a surplus of $13.8 billion.
In fact, one survey found that a non-native citizen will pay $80,000 more in taxes during his or her lifetime than a US native.
Another common myth is that immigration reduces American wages.
However, a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has found that immigrants have little to no effect on wages. Sometimes, researchers note, they actually increase wages for native-born citizens.
In the study, it was discovered that the first immigrants in a family may have initial costs on governments. However, the future generations contribute to society so much that they make up for the primary costs.
Where negative correlations in wages do exist, the impact falls upon prior immigrants or citizens without high school degrees.
Soft Power Influences
In the realm of politics, soft power is often completely ignored.
Soft power gains its traction not from dominance, but devotion to humankind. It encapsulates the idea that a country does not serve only itself, that it seeks to promote a better world through the consideration of all races and cultures.
This is a power that America has held for centuries, and it is why people from all lands and histories have sought a life within our borders. It is why Cubans continue to drown on their dangerous voyages across the sea in rickety rafts, praying they will make it to shore.
Soft power is what inspired the term “melting pot.” It drives democracy, tourism and the dreams of America’s youth and adults alike.
We need only to look to history to see how soft power molds us, influencing our comprehension of terms like equality, freedom, and happiness.
All of these are benefits derived not from the denial of others’ thoughts and ways, but from consideration of them.
In 2011, 62 million tourists explored the United States. The prior year, over one million immigrants applied for a permanent position as a US citizen.
Jennie S. Bev of Forbes Magazine writes, “The people of the world still believe that the USA is the place to visit, to reside, and to prosper.”
Love and Smiles
The world is full of impossibilities, and many of them grow from the imaginations and wishes of the people within it.
The benefits of immigration are vast, and they truly do aid in putting smiles upon the faces of individuals within the United States and outside of it. But first, we must realize the advantages we take for granted.
To learn other ways to smile, read our article about health tips that will make those downturned lips pull upwards.