With the United States opening its boarders to thousands of legal immigrants each year, immigration has become one of the most hotly debated issues in the country. However, what has largely fueled this debate has to do with the impact of both illegal and legal immigrants on the United States' economy, crime rates as well as education and environment. While some continue to advocate for the reduction of immigration within the U.S., others are of the opinion that legal immigration impacts positively on the U.S. In terms of diversity and economic gains amongst other unique benefits. It is important to note that when legal immigration is viewed from a critical perspective, the United States does benefit greatly from the same. This text will clearly and concisely highlight some of these benefits.
Immigration in the United States: An Overview
Considered a complex demographic issue, immigration to the U.S. has stirred much controversy over time. This is more so the case given the increasing number of individuals seeking permanent residency in the U.S. each year and the political, social as well as economic impacts of such a trend. According to Geigenberger (2008), "the United States of America has always been a nation of immigrants." To highlight this point, the author notes that approximately 20 million individuals were admitted in the United States as legal permanent residents in the three decades preceding the year 2000. Basically, there are many reasons as to why individuals seek to immigrate to U.S. Key among these is for purposes of family reunion. Other reasons include but are not limited to the search for better opportunities and for humanitarian reasons.
Why Legal Immigration is Good for the United States
From the onset, it can be noted that with a proper immigration policy in place, legal immigration has quite a number of key distinct benefits. The benefits I highlight in this section have to do with the enhancement of diversity, economic prosperity amongst other nationwide contributions.
Impact on the Economy
To begin with, legal immigrants impact positively on the economy. According to Geigenberger (2008), "legal immigrants participate actively in the labor force." It is however important to note that an increasing number of legal immigrants searching for jobs effectively brings about an increased level of competition in the job market. This is more so the case when the job openings are limited. In some quarters, it has been noted that those who stand to lose out as a result of such competition are native-born workers who may see their wages decline. However, as Geigenberger (2008) notes, such a trend in the long run benefits the society as a whole. The reasoning here is founded on the fact that as wages decline, businesses benefit by having their labor costs lowered. With a decrease in labor costs, businesses are able to offer their goods and services for sale at a lower price. In such a scenario, consumers are the eventual winners. Hence in the final analysis, "the gains accruing to the persons who use or consume immigrant services exceed the losses suffered by several native-born workers" (Geigenberger, 2008). Thus one key benefit of legal immigration has to do with the enhancement of the wealth of the population. Further, skilled immigrants are yet another important group of legal immigrants whose contribution to the economy is critical. In my opinion, the contribution this group makes to the U.S. economy is often overlooked due to the extreme attention given to both low-skilled and illegal immigrants. As Shally-Jensen (2010) notes, the relevance of skilled immigrants to the United States economy cannot be overstated especially when it comes to the contribution of these immigrants to both the tax revenues and the GDP of the nation. This is more so the case for those immigrants having specialist skills in a wide range of fields including but not limited to health, science and technology. Others who have in the past supported this assertion include Laszlo Bock, people operations vice president at Google. In a submission made before Congress, Bock emphasized on the need for highly-skilled foreigners to be granted American citizenship (Estrom, 2007). Indeed, many prominent business leaders in the United States today are themselves immigrants. These include the founders of some of America's biggest corporations like Sun Microsystems, Yahoo and Intel (Estrom, 2007).
Enhancement of Diversity
Apart from stimulating the United State's economy, legal immigrants also encourage diversity which has a number of significant benefits. Some proponents of unrestricted immigration according to Shally-Jensen (2010) maintain that owing to its ability to introduce "greater diversity, immigration strengthens and enriches the United States' political, social, and cultural institutions." This is more so the case given the role immigrants from a variety of countries including but not limited to China, India and Mexico play in enriching America's cultural, political as well as religious diversity. There are quite a number of benefits that a country like the United States can reap from such enhanced diversity. For instance, when it comes to cultural diversity, businesses with a diverse workforce in the U.S. are more likely to gain a marketing edge than their overseas counterparts as they tend to be more familiar with different cultural groups. The relevance of such an edge cannot be overstated given that the world is increasingly becoming a global village going forward. Hence effectively, immigration gives American corporations the much needed sophistication for success in international business. Further, still on diversity, it can be noted that immigration has had a significant impact on the enhancement of United State's religious composition. For instance, thanks to immigration, Islam Sikhism, Buddhism as well as Hinduism have all experienced significant growth in the recent past. A nation that embraces religious diversity benefits by having higher levels of respect and tolerance for other religious, cultural as well as social views and opinions.
Advancement of Skills and Capabilities
It can also be noted that in a way, legal immigration, particularly of low skilled workers motivates more Native American citizens to advance their skills and capabilities. As Griswold (2009) notes, with an increasing number of low skilled immigrants, a good number of young Americans has been forced to pursue their studies further. The author also points out that the same influx of immigrants has forced "older workers to upgrade their skills" (Griswold, 2009). Hence based on the significant competition occasioned by the arrival of low-skilled immigrants, native citizens come to the realization that finishing high school and enhancing their capabilities has a greater financial reward. This behavior according to Griswold (2009) leads to the acquisition of more skills and education among the populace keen on avoiding any direct competition with immigrant workers. This can be viewed as a distinct societal benefit.
Legal immigrants also benefit the nation from a political perspective. In Geigenberger's (2008) opinion, "legal immigrants…are also important to conserve existing political structures in the future." This is particularly the case given that America's population growth is expected to slow down going forward. Further complicating issues is the fact that "fertility rates have been below the replacement level for several years" (Geigenberger, 2008). With that in mind, and faced with the need to insulate itself from the negative effects of population decrease or statis, America may to a certain extent rely on legal immigrants.
Apart from the benefits I highlight above, it is also important to note that immigration does expose the citizens of the United States to a wide range of languages as well as cultures thus in a way facilitating the exchange of perspectives, knowledge and values. This in the long run adds to the society's richness. Further, it can be noted that legal immigration also plays a critical role in reducing illegal immigration. The reasoning here is that when individuals are allowed or encouraged to use legal channels to obtain U.S. citizenship, existing illegal immigration incentives are effectively minimized. On the other hand, denying people a chance to utilize legal channels so as to seek U.S. citizenship or work permit could bring about an increase in the number of illegal immigrants. With illegal immigration in such a scenario becoming a common occurrence, the nation could end up loosing out in terms of tax. Allowing legal immigration could also have a positive impact on the international image of the U.S. In such a case, the United States obtains a reputation as a welcoming nation which treats everyone with respect, fairness and dignity.
Even in the light of the distinct benefits of legal immigration to the U.S. As highlighted above, it is prudent to identify some of the most prominent arguments against immigration and why in my view they are largely invalid. To begin with, some are convinced that immigration has far reaching negative impacts on the United States' economy. In reality however, this happens to be the case only when using illegal immigrants as a reference point. For instance, the wages undocumented workers earn is hard to monitor.…