Too many immigrants?


We American complain too much. We complain about everything, not just the weather—although of late the weather has been something to complain about. But, that’s not the complaining that’s really getting on my nerves these days.

My beef is with those who are constantly griping that we have too many immigrants coming to the good old US of A. Really! We, the nation of immigrants, whose Founding Fathers were mostly immigrants, or first generation children of immigrants—none of whom had a visa to enter the country.

Okay, so they didn’t require visas back then, but that’s besides the point. The point is that just about everyone in the United States is descended from someone who came from somewhere else.

So, why all the carping about too many immigrants? Does it even have any merit? Let’s think about it for a moment.

One argument you hear often is that undocumented immigrants are responsible for violent crime in the US. Dunderheaded politicians out drumming up votes flog that old canard frequently but never cite valid studies to back up their claim. They cite the numbers of violent crimes committed by undocumented immigrants without comparing them to the number committed by the native born.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey for 2016, for example, show that ‘illegal immigrants are 47 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives, and the legal immigrants are even less likely. Well, there’s one claim for the trash bin.

Another claim heard a lot, especially during election years, is that immigrants, documented and undocumented hurt the economy and American workers by ‘taking precious resources (jobs) from the poorest Americans who need them most.’ These are the words of a person running for office in 2016, but if you listen these days, you’ll hear a version of the same refrain.

What, though, is the truth of the matter? The answer is that it’s complicated, far more complicated than huckster politicians making stump speeches make it out to be. But, there are some facts that they don’t mention that are worth considering. Most legitimate studies show that immigrants (legal or undocumented) contribute more tax revenue (that’s right, even those here without papers pay taxes because, other than entering the country or staying illegally, they don’t want to break the law and draw attention to themselves) than they receive in government benefits. They’re not even eligible for federal benefits, despite paying taxes.

Here’s another interesting statistic. Second generation immigrants contribute about $1,700 per year to the national economy while native-born Americans, including third generation immigrants, contribute only an average of $`1,300. Official data is not available for undocumented immigrants but logic suggests that because they’re usually younger and ineligible for public benefits, they contribute even more.

What kind of jobs do immigrants do? Let me give you just one example.

On March 26, 2024, at 1:29 am EDT, a massive container vessel crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge spanning the Patapsco River, which is the access to the Port of Baltimore, one of the busiest in the nation. The main spans and three approach spans of the bridge collapsed into the river, and six highway maintenance workers were killed. All six were immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They all had families and were law-abiding, tax-paying residents of Maryland. To date, I’ve heard no one accuse them of ‘taking jobs from American workers.’ I’ve not seen any news of American workers clamoring to replace them.

Too many immigrants? Tell that to the Port of Baltimore dockworkers who were not working because the channel to the port was closed—many of them also immigrants. Tell it to the families of the six men who were laboring away on that bridge in the dim pre-dawn hours when it fell from beneath their feet and plunged them into the dark waters of the river, underneath the tons of steel and concrete that fell with them. | NWI