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It's simple: Immigration benefits the nation


Friday, September 9, 2016

While the debate over immigration roils national politics, dragging any hope of reform to a grinding halt, individual states are beginning to offer evidence of immigration’s benefits to their economy. At the same time, hard evidence has emerged to counter the fear-mongering over immigrants who commit crimes.
 
Looking at immigration from a simple, utilitarian perspective, it benefits far more people than it harms and, therefore, is good for the United States.
 
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the ethical doctrine of utilitarianism, at its most basic, is “the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good.” Using this very bare-bones ethical model, it should be obvious that, in this country of immigrants, immigration is beneficial.
 
In the months running up to the presidential election, an interesting trend has appeared in the media. Business leaders and state agencies from a growing number of individual states have called for immigration reform, citing the benefits of immigration to their own state economies. Examples include Michigan, South Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota and North Carolina — among numerous others.
 
Interestingly, the states listed above are generally pro-native-born labor swing states or conservative southern states, with the obvious exception of Minnesota, whose voters are among the most liberal in the U.S. In spite of the political differences among such states, many of their business and political leaders recognize the need for immigration reform, particularly with respect to skilled immigrants.
 
Immigrants do not take “American jobs,” they create them. Immigrants start new businesses at a pace greater than their native-born counterparts. Moreover, in several employment sectors, U.S. colleges and universities are not producing enough graduates to fill a growing number of vacancies.
 
Immigrants with skills in science, math, medicine and engineering are crucial to alleviating employment shortages that business and agencies in the United States are facing — and will continue to face unless immigration quotas are eased. Clearly, permitting more highly skilled workers to immigrate benefits a far greater number of Americans than it would harm. Adam Ozimek, writing in Forbes, makes this very argument.
 
One area in which native-born Americans are outpacing immigrants is the rate of criminality. All the political rhetoric about immigrants being dangerous criminals is simply wrong. The parties who attempt to make such arguments are using isolated tragedies to propagate a myth. Research published in a July 2015 study, shows, in fact that immigrants are less likely to be criminals than native-born citizens. The report goes on to say that:
 
[I]mmigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not “criminals” by any commonly accepted definition of the term. 
 
So, immigrants have much more to fear from native-born citizens than “real Americans” do from immigrants.
 
Evidence is clear that immigration boosts the economy, creates jobs and actually correlates with decreased crime levels. From a utilitarian perspective, it’s clear: immigration is good for the United States and should be recognized for the value it adds to our nation.

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