Pew recently issued the results of its in-depth research on immigration.
First, a few “factoids.”
When we include the children and grandchildren of those who have immigrated to the U.S. since 1965, immigrants have accounted for 55% of America’s subsequent population growth. (They’re projected to account for 88% of the population increase over the next 50 years.)
Nearly 14% of the population is foreign born.
Compared with U.S.-born adults, recent arrivals are less likely to have finished high school, but they are more likely to have completed college or to hold an advanced degree.
As with so many other issues, American attitudes are polarized: Some 45% of adults say immigrants in the U.S. are making American society better in the long run, while 37% say they are making it worse.
A recent op-ed in the New York Times offered some useful perspective on the issue:
History provides some clarity about the relative costs and benefits of immigration over time. Fifty years ago this month, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. By any standard, it made the United States a stronger nation. The act was endorsed by Republicans and Democrats in an era when cooperation was still possible. Indeed, the most serious opposition came from Southern Democrats and an ambivalent secretary of state, Dean Rusk. But it passed the Senate easily (76-18), with skillful leadership from its floor manager, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and Johnson himself….
The flood of new immigrants also promoted prosperity in ways that few could have imagined in 1965. Between 1990 and 2005, as the digital age took off, 25 percent of the fastest-growing American companies were founded by people born in foreign countries.
Much of the growth of the last two decades has stemmed from the vast capacity that was delivered by the Internet and the personal computer, each of which was accelerated by immigrant ingenuity. Silicon Valley, especially, was transformed. In a state where Asian immigrants had once faced great hardship, they helped to transform the global economy. The 2010 census stated that more than 50 percent of technical workers in Silicon Valley are Asian-American.
Not to mention that our food choices have improved immeasurably….In short, any rational analysis demonstrates that immigration has been (and continues to be) incredibly beneficial to the country.
I suspect that it is another “factoid” from the Pew survey that really explains “the Donald”– and for that matter, most opposition to immigration: By 2055, the U.S. as a whole is projected to have no racial or ethnic majority.
Let’s be honest: much of the animus expressed toward immigrants (and protestations to the contrary, that animus is not limited to those labeled “illegals”) is based upon the “otherness” of some of them. To be blunt, much of it is racist.
As I’ve noted previously, my son-in-law is a (legal) immigrant, and in his thirty-plus years in America, has never experienced that animus. I’m sure it’s just coincidental that he’s a very pale Brit….