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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Increased immigration benefits our job market

    Immigration continues to be a controversial topic of debate in this country. The Supreme Court upheld the most controversial part of Arizona’s immigrant enforcement law Monday, permitting both state and local police with probable cause to ask those they stop for proof of legal residency. The justices did, however, strike down other provisions of the bill, such as one that would make it a state crime to seek employment if you are in the country illegally. Prior to this, President Obama signed an executive order to allow young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation if they meet certain qualifications.

    Both pieces of legislation have drawn criticism from members of Congress and citizens alike, and in a sluggish recovery from the recession where job seekers face a national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, it’s understandable why so many have voiced their concerns.

    But as the left and right continue to debate the legality of immigration issues, many seem to overlook that immigration actually benefits job growth and our economy. Congress should focus on simplifying the path to legal residency while creating more incentives that encourage hard-working immigrants to stay in America.

    According to a 2010 study by the Economic Policy Institute, immigration increased the wages of most U.S. workers by an average of 0.4 percent between 1994 and 2007. Immigrants boost the productivity of United States workers because they often work in complementary positions that result in wage raises across the board. This also acts as investments that pressure businesses to increases wages to meet the demand for labor. Higher wages equates to more purchasing power for the U.S., which can help accelerate economic recovery.

    Contrary to popular belief, immigrants actually increase the amount of domestic job availability. In a 2011 study by the American Enterprise Institute, researchers found that for every 100 temporary immigrant workers employed in the U.S., 183 additional jobs were created for U.S. citizens. Immigrants buy goods and services from businesses, create their own businesses and usually don’t compete for the same jobs as U.S. workers, according to the Immigration Policy Center. All of these factors help sustain and produce jobs.

    While unskilled labor forces are beneficial to our economy, the study found that immigrants who received advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics from U.S. universities have the most positive effect. For every 100 who found jobs, an additional 262 jobs were created in the U.S. Immigrants with advanced degrees are also 30 percent more likely to start up new businesses and three times more likely to file patents, according to a 2010 report from the Brookings Institution. These immigrants are consequently job-generating machines who simultaneously fuel innovation.

    These are all clear benefits to our economy, yet we provide little incentive for immigrants to stay here. It can take years for immigrants to obtain a green card and our government frequently impedes their progress with legal technicalities. Potential migrants are often required to have relatives living in the U.S., for example, or to have a U.S. employer to sponsor them. Without a simple path toward legal residency, these valuable workers will generate jobs for our economic competitors.

    Immigration reform has not surfaced in Congress since the Bush administration. It’s true that Congress should focus on our economy, but new immigration policies that favor skilled workers can help hasten the recovery.

    —Michael Carolin is a journalism and creative writing junior. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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