Recently, whether it be on the news, from a family member or from a friend, most people have at least been involved in a conversation about immigration. Regardless of what your position on immigration is, there are less spoken-of benefits in typical discourse.
Since economics are usually the frontrunner in conversations about immigration, this topic will be tackled first.
In Scott Staus and Barry Driscoll's Textbook “International Studies: Global Forces, Interactions, and Tensions,” they write, "Research is clear that migrant workers boost economic output where they migrate, and they do so at little to no cost to locals."
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The first way this happens is because immigrants add to the total supply of labor and participate in consumerism which boosts economic output. This is because more demand is created and thus the supply must go up, creating more economic activity in the host country. Also, the textbook stated, for every three to five seasonal immigrant farm workers, one additional job is created for non-immigrants.
Staus and Driscoll also stress that the narrative of “immigrants are stealing our jobs” is directly contradicted by the aforementioned empirical measurements. Furthermore, in 2011, five of 468,000 unemployed Americans in North Carolina completed one whole season in the agricultural jobs offered by the North Carolina Growers Association. That means 99.999% of Americans, at least in North Carolina, don’t want to do these jobs that immigrants are “stealing” anyway.
Immigration doesn’t just help the economy. It also helps countries with rapidly aging populations. Some places in East Asia, such as South Korea, are facing what some professionals like to call a demographic time bomb. Immigration, I think, can be a solution to this issue.
First, to understand the argument, some data will be needed. The difference between South Korea’s and the United States' immigration rates is rather phenomenal. If there was no immigration to either, it would mean that both would be in a similar situation with an ageing population. However, since the United States has a steady flow of young immigrants coming into the country, this demographic crisis, at least for United States citizens, has been averted.
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On top of that, I don’t think it is outlandish to believe that this flow of immigrants also helps with systems like social security and even the education system. With a larger population of primarily young immigrants, there are more people to pay into social security. Since these people often don’t come with older folks, there is one more person to pay for it and one less person to take from it.
In terms of education, immigrants can contribute lingually. Having a native speaker of a language in a language class, from my own experience, can be very helpful in learning a new language. On top of that, many places are facing teacher shortages, and as far as I see it, with a growing population some of those spots might have a better chance of being filled.
This leaves me with my last remaining question. If there are all these supposed benefits to immigration, why is it so hard to immigrate to the U.S.? That is one question I, unfortunately, don’t have the answer to. However, I do believe if immigration is made an easier process, more people can get into the county legally and provide all the economic and social benefits and curate a diverse and efficient environment.
Owen Darland (he/him) is a sophomore studying international studies and journalism.