Myths of Immigration Policy

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, I recently covered Myths and Realitiies of Public Policy.  Just a bit too late for my use, The Post published a really nice piece on 5 myths of immigration policy.  There’s an amazing correlation between this and my lecture notes.  The two most notable:

1. Immigrants take jobs from American
workers

Although immigrants account for 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, they make up about 15 percent of the workforce. They are overrepresented among workers largely because the rest of our population is aging: Immigrants and their children have accounted for 58 percent of U.S. population growth since 1980. This probably won’t change anytime soon. Low U.S. fertility rates and the upcoming retirement of the baby boomers mean that immigration is likely to be the only source of growth in what we call the “prime age” workforce — workers ages 25 to 55 — in the decades ahead. As record numbers of retirees begin drawing Social Security checks, younger immigrant workers will be paying taxes, somewhat easing the financial pressures on the system.

Moreover, immigrants tend to be concentrated in high- and low-skilled occupations that complement — rather than compete with — jobs held by
native workers…

3. Today’s immigrants are not integrating into American life like past waves did.

The integration of immigrants remains a hallmark of America’s vitality as a society and a source of admiration abroad, as it has been throughout our history. Although some people complain that today’s immigrants are not integrating into U.S. society as quickly as previous newcomers did, the same charge was leveled at virtually every past wave of immigrants, including the large numbers of Germans, Irish and Italians who arrived in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Today, as before, immigrant integration takes a generation or two. Learning English is one key driver of this process; the education and upward mobility of immigrants’ children is the other.

The other three myths are worth reading to, but these are almost straight out of my lecture notes, so obviously I’m partial to them.

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