The Transylvania Times -

We Need Immigrants


July 5, 2018

Last month two immigration bills were brought before the U.S. House but neither one passed. Both of them would have significantly reduced legal immigration. Depending upon the bill and its analysis, the number of legal immigrants would have been reduced by 2-4 million over the next 20 years. In the Senate, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia introduced The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, which promises to cut immigration levels in half. They want to reduce the number of refugee applications for permanent residence to 50,000 per year.

These efforts to significantly reduce legal immigration are unwise.

First, it undermines any attempt to control illegal immigration. A country should humanely control its borders and cull those immigrants who are criminals, terrorists, frauds, etc. But when we dramatically reduce foreigners’ legal options for entering the U.S., then many will seek an illegal option. This is true in any case where people are desperate or desirous of obtaining a goal. During Prohibition, people turned to illegal means to manufacture and sell alcohol. People who can no longer obtain narcotics by prescription turn to crime and the black market. Many professional athletes take illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

If there is an increase in illegal immigration, then it truly becomes more difficult to separate the criminals and terrorists from respectable immigrants who are coming here for good reasons and would have sought legal entry if it had been available.

Second, changing demographics within the U.S. will require an influx of immigrants if we are to maintain our standard of living – particularly health care – and remain the world’s predominant economy.

America is an aging society. In 2010 there were more than 40 million Americans over the age of 65. By 2050, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will more than double to 90 million. More specifically, the percentage of people over the age of 85 will increase by 350 percent, from 4.3 million in 2000 to 19.3 million in 2050. The increase in our elderly population will create a corresponding increase in the need for health care services, and those services are labor intensive.

In the meantime, the percentage of people ages 16-64 will only increase 33 percent. According to the Cato Institute, U.S. population growth is at its lowest level since the Great Depression and the fertility rate has dropped to its lowest level on record. In May, the New York Times reported that last year women “had 500,000 fewer babies than in 2007, despite the fact that there were an estimated 7 percent more women in their prime child-bearing years.”

If these demographic trends continue, the increasing percentage of elderly Americans who will not be working and be reliant on others will place too great a burden on working Americans to provide the necessary services for the population at large. The only reasonable way to counterbalance this demographic shift is to allow more legal immigrants.

The perception that immigrants are a negative influence on America is false. The vast majority of immigrants leave family and home behind because they see a better life here. As we’ve noted before, the U.S. has few modern-day Scandinavian immigrants because they perceive their lives to be as good or better than those in the U.S. Most immigrants are not criminals. In fact, immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. According to the Cato Institute, “immigrants do not increase local crime rates and are less likely to cause crime than their native-born peers, and that natives are more likely to be incarcerated than immigrants.”

Immigrants also tend to be hardworking, family-oriented and religious citizens. (Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said the Catholic Church is pro-immigration because the church needs immigrants to fill the pews vacated by Americans.)

The U.S. is a nation of immigrants. Those immigrants and their progeny opened businesses, fought in wars and enhanced our communities and country. Their positive contributions have been innumerable. They come here because they believe in the American dream of being able to define themselves, to reach their potential.

We need to reform our immigration laws, but we do not need to decrease the number of legal immigrants we receive. To do so would betray our heritage and be counter-productive to our nation’s well being.


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