Are tougher U.S. immigration laws hurting America?
Step 4 of 4
- Yes? But have you considered...
- No? But have you considered...
…the “hidden costs” of immigration?
Many of those in favor of tougher immigration laws argue that many costs of immigration are hidden or hard to quantify and therefore far higher than most Americans think.
Let’s take a look at the public school system, upon which immigration has a dramatic effect. This is because some areas are experiencing record-high immigration. Bear in mind the high birth rate among recently arrived immigrants and the fact that so many new immigrants are of childbearing age. Nationwide, the effect of this on the school-age population is startling: U.S. Census data indicate that in 2000 immigrants represented one in nine of all U.S. residents, but their children represented one in five of all children under the age of 18.
And, of course, this proportion is greater in states with higher levels of immigration. In California, half of the students in fifth grade and below have at least one parent who is foreign-born. California also has the highest proportion of LEP (limited English-proficient) students.
Clearly, the cost of educating more children and more children with limited English skills is higher. The campaign group Common Sense on Mass Immigration criticizes the lack of reliable national figures, but estimates that “bilingual education probably adds $4 billion to education expenditures in California alone.”
Even though three-quarters of the children of immigrant parents are born in the United States and are therefore citizens, they should be counted when it comes to calculating the staggering costs of immigration to taxpayers. The “ripple effect” of immigration winds up costing Americans billions every year.
…that tougher immigration policy is damaging the U.S. economy?
For many years, the U.S economy has relied on immigrant workers, both legal and illegal. But increasing regulations for employers and tighter border controls are causing serious problems for many different industries.
For example, it’s estimated that 70 percent of farmworkers work here illegally. But new government regulations that make employers responsible for ensuring the immigration status of their workers are making life much more difficult for farmers. They say there aren't enough legal workers willing to do the tough, seasonal jobs the farmers need to fill each year.
Even in California, which has one of the highest levels of immigration in the country, the state’s Chamber of Commerce says that “legal immigration levels are set far too low to meet the demand for labor.”
The impact of increased regulation is also being felt among white-collar industries, particularly in Silicon Valley. Annual caps on the numbers of specific types of work visas that are issued are leaving hi-tech businesses unable to recruit the skilled workers they need from abroad. In response, some of them may be forced to relocate to countries with less regulation, which would clearly impact the economy.
“The United States is at risk of isolating itself as an economy,” Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz recently warned, blaming more conservative immigration laws.
U.S. immigration policy is even hurting the tourist industry. A 2006 report conducted by the Discover America Partnership discovered that 70 percent of foreign travelers were “worried” by our visa and immigration rules, and more than half thought that U.S. immigrations officials were “rude.” The Travel Industry Association reported tourist numbers for 2007 that were 11 percent lower than the pre-9/11 figures in 2000. This comes at a time of booming worldwide travel and a weak dollar, which makes the United States less expensive for foreign visitors.
And then there are ways in which increased security on our northern border is affecting business in both Canada and the United States. Free trade relies on the smooth flow of goods and labor through open borders, but now that it's harder to move goods between the two countries, Canadian support for NAFTA is dwindling. Canadians are increasingly looking for other countries to do business with.
Our economy is taking a hit from tougher immigration laws, and the tougher the laws become, the worse it’s going to get.
Step 4 of 4