We Need Immigration

statue of liberty

It’s no secret that the American immigration system is broken. Millions of immigrants pour into the United States every year, many of them undocumented. These undocumented immigrants undercut Americans who are looking for jobs because of the unscrupulous businesses who pay them less than minimum wage, knowing that undocumented workers cannot complain to the authorities without being deported. Our members of Congress twiddle their thumbs and make brave speeches to their supporters while private citizens in our border states attempt to wage a private war against families who are illegally crossing our border.

This is a recipe for disaster, and the situation is growing more desperate with every passing year. Tensions are rising as more and more immigrants come to our country and our political leaders in Washington resolutely refuse to do anything to correct the situation. Our immigration system is collapsing under its own weight and it could quite possibly take down our entire country with it.

The truth is that America needs immigrants. Politicians have used our broken immigration policies for decades as a way to divide Americans, make them angry, and in the end make more money for their corporate masters and Wall Street friends. But America has always been a nation built on the hard work of immigrants, and immigration has always made our country and our culture richer.

More importantly, our economy simply requires more workers than we have. Despite America’s high unemployment rate, millions of jobs are going unfilled every month, either because there are not enough qualified American workers for high-skill jobs or because American workers are refusing to do low-paying low-skilled jobs. Currently, foreign-born residents represent 25% of scientists and engineers in the United States, and that number is expected to grow as the demand for workers with STEM skills continues to grow.

Even more pressing is the fact that without immigrants, the United States will not have enough new workers to support retirees. The numbers are already getting dangerous: seventy years ago, there were 160 workers for every 20 seniors, and ten years ago there were only 100 workers for every 20 seniors. By 2050, without massive immigration, there will be only 56 workers for every 20 seniors. This is not a sustainable situation.

What makes the situation more urgent is the fact that America is competing with many other countries to attract and retain immigrants. For example, every year Australia offers 125,000 permanent residency visas to skilled foreign workers, while the United States only offers 140,000 employment-based green cards, despite having 14 times the population of Australia. If we were hoping to remain competitive, we would be offering 1,750,000 green cards per year. Instead, our caps on immigration force over 20,000 American-educated students to leave the United States every year – people who would be overjoyed to live here, pay taxes, and contribute to American success.

By capping immigration and refusing to do anything to deal with the huge numbers of people who are coming here illegally, we are crippling our nation. Millions of our undocumented immigrants would love to become legal residents and pay taxes and social security, which would force employers to stop relying on illegal workers who can be underpaid, which would mean more jobs for all Americans. We could fill the hundreds of thousands of empty construction and high tech jobs that would help make our country prosperous, and we could ensure that our nation will be able to continue to care for our elderly.

However, our politicians have decided it is more personally advantageous for them to do nothing. Undocumented immigrants are a convenient scapegoat for many politicians, and fixing the immigration issue would risk angering people. It’s far safer for them to avoid the issue. We can no longer afford to sit on our hands and hope that this problem will fix itself. If you want to see comprehensive immigration reform that will reward people who want to come here legally and discourage illegal immigration, then I urge you to cast your vote for me, Art Drew, for President of the United States in 2016.