Across the nation, Americans gathered on a very hot Saturday, June 30, 2018 to protest the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” policies, that include separating parents and children, holding children and toddlers in pens, arresting and imprisoning sanctuary seekers, and instructing ICE personnel and border security not to comfort or hold crying children who were separated from their mothers, fathers, or siblings.
For the man yelling, “My grandmother was legal not illegal immigrant; build that wall!” to those individuals gathered to protest the inhumane policies of this Trump administration, please, sir, do read your American history. It would also be helpful to your country for you and the Trump administration to learn something about economics even if you do not believe in losing your souls.
Quite simply, America needs immigrants.
For all of the talk— in response to Trump’s persistent and denigrating attacks on immigrants—about immigrants’ contributions to farming, house cleaning, the food and restaurant industries, nanny positions in caring for our children—immigrants’ myriad and rich contributions to American life may be found everywhere and in a far wider array than those services listed above. From science to technology to art to entertainment to mathematics to sports to entrepreneurship, recent immigrants’ service to America is not only needed but essential.
The U.S. Treasury recently revealed in “Treasury Notes” (July, 2018 posting) that recent immigrants pay far more taxes than they receive in services. According to the Cato Journal, “In addition to contributions to economic growth, employment, and innovation, immigrant business ownership may also act as a tool to enhance immigrant labor market integration and success” (CATO Institute, Fall, 2017). Yes, the evidence is ample that recent immigrants become business owners and “create a disproportionate share of new jobs” (CATO Institute) that fuel our economy.
“A body of research has consistently found that business ownership is higher among the foreign-born than the native-born in many developed countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia (Borjas 1986; Lofstrom 2002; Clark and Drinkwater 2000, 2010; Schuetze and Antecol 2007; Fairlie et al. 2010). Immigrants in the United States are also found to be more likely to start businesses than the native born (Fairlie 2008),” according to the CATO Institute. “Immigrant self-employment can be seen across all skill groups,” the studies conducted by the CATO Institute found. This right-wing, think tank is not alone in lauding the importance of the immigrant to the economy.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that we need more immigrants, not fewer: “With trends headed in the right direction, policymakers’ outsized focus on further restricting immigration is puzzling, particularly in light of the robust U.S. economy,” wrote Pia Orrenius, Vice President and Senior Economist of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas in The Catalyst, Issue 09, Winter 2018.
For those considering the importance of sources in weighing information, The Catalyst is an online journal produced by the George W. Bush Institute, with Republican leanings. The CATO Institute is considered a right-wing, libertarian think tank. The infamous Koch Brothers provided initial funding for the CATO Institute. In other words, those on the right, Republicans, outside of the demented, confused world view of the Trump administration, are directly at odds with the current Trump policy and rhetoric directed toward immigrants.
Momentarily setting aside concerns for inhumanity toward man, the United States can, economically, ill afford to continue Trump’s and Attorney General Sessions’ racist policies toward immigrants.
Although every American except native American Indians can trace their ancestors to immigrants, the absurd and deeply racist idea that immigrants are dangerous has gained traction under the deceptive speech and race-baiting of Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
In addition to the economic boon to America, immigrants have made powerful contributions to every aspect of our country.
To randomly name just a few immigrants who have benefited our society:
Artist Willem de Kooning, the abstract painter whose single work of art recently sold for $66.3 million, arrived on our shores in 1926, after stowing away on a ship, “illegally” entering the U.S.
Ukrainian born Mila Kunis, actress, arrived with her family who had all of $250 in their possession as they started their new lives here.
Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest businessmen of his time, moved with his family to the U.S. in 1848. Although he started working on the railroads, by 1889, Carnegie owned the Carnegie Steel Corporation.
Albert Einstein was visiting America in 1933 and chose to stay indefinitely (the Nazis gaining power at that time in his home country of Germany).
Arnold Schwarzenegger, body builder and former governor of California, was born in Austria in 1947.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was born in Czechoslovakia.
Rupert Murdoch, who gave us the propaganda channel Fox News and owned over 60 percent of American news media, is an Australian.
You can’t look very deeply into pro sports in America without bumping into recent immigrants—many becoming legal only through sports agencies. Our entertainment industries are filled with first or second-generation immigrants.
Everyone should know by now that Steve Jobs’ father was an immigrant from Syria—one of Trump’s banned countries. Where would we be without Apple?
Really, listing immigrants and their contributions to America would take up volumes and volumes and volumes. We are all immigrants.
In 1849, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress alone could regulate immigration. The Know Nothing Party formed a racist protest of immigration. Although the “Know Nothings” were so named to hide their identities, their moniker is particularly apt in describing them.
Congress only began to pass stricter immigration laws at end of the 1880s, although naturalization residency requirements of five years were passed early in the 1800s. Before that time, every immigrant came without any “legal” status attached.
When the Irish came in waves into the country, fleeing famine, there was a strong “nativist” backlash. The Central Pacific Railroad brought in Chinese and Irish immigrants to build their railroads. In 1886, the Supreme Court ruled that due legal process must extend to undocumented immigrants, something that this Trump administration seems to be either unaware of or directly flaunting. Both Japanese Americans and native Alaskans have been forcibly held in internment “camps” during ugly periods of our history. When Italians came to this country in great waves, there was “nativist” resistance to them, as well, and to Catholics, and now to Muslim Americans. “First they came for the…”
For enlightening lessons on the timelines of immigration waves in our history, see ProCon.org or read a few history texts.
For enlightenment and to continue to earn your humanity, welcome a recent immigrant and thank them today.
Nancy Avery Dafoe