Dear Citizens of America:
The nation is looking for people on which to blame its problems. With the constant threat of terrorism, high levels of unemployment, crime, and very low wages for much of America, many turn to immigrants, who now compose about 13% of the nation’s population. Immigration is a complicated issue because it is affecting in so many ways: Millions of new people influence the country in millions of ways. However, immigrants are no more guilty of causing America’s problems than native-born Americans, as extensive research has shown. In fact, many of the claims of people opposing immigration simply aren’t true. It is vital to get the facts straight on the effects of immigration to appreciate how immigrants lift the country. Everyone, including you, should understand the crucial role immigrants play in supporting the nation because your future votes and the votes of people around you can decide the fate of people seeking a better life in America. This essay will explain how immigrants are not more responsible for unemployment, low wages, crime, and terrorism than any native-born citizen.
First, immigrants have been shown to, overall, have little effect on the wages and opportunities for jobs on their fellow Americans. Many believe that an increased demand for jobs will allow companies to lower their wages significantly. In addition, they believe that fewer jobs will be open for native citizens. This assumption has been found to be false by research from a variety of sources. According to a study done by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, there are, “little to no negative effects on overall wages and employment of native-born workers in the longer term.” This 550-page report was written by 14 experts, including economists and demographers, with very mixed views on immigration. Although they found no overall major impact, they did find that in some cases immigrants from previous generations competed with new immigrants. However, immigrants in technology and science created jobs for Americans. The report went on to say, “The prospects for long-run economic growth in the United States would be considerably dimmed without the contributions of high-skilled immigrants.” All in all, this report found that immigrants have minimal negative effects on jobs and wages. According to the Center of American Progress, an organization committed to improving America and the lives of its citizens, immigrants may increase jobs and pay. Between the years 1990 and 2006, 12.5 million workers came to America, and the average earnings of an American increased by about one-half of a percent. Although this could be attributed to inflation, it still proves that immigration doesn’t lower wages in the long term. The article noted that immigrants joining the labor market often do not take the same jobs as most Americans. Another study from the organization found that within ten years of awarding illegal immigrants citizenship, “the cumulative increase in income of all Americans would be $470 billion.” There are many explanations as to why this might occur. Foreigners often have different skills than American natives, so they are not often competing. Also, research has shown, that when a company gets more workers, it expands, creating new jobs and lifting the economy. In addition, approximately 7.5% of immigrants start their own businesses, so they can create new jobs on their own, too. In conclusion, contrary to many beliefs, extensive research has repetitively shown that immigrants do not lower the wages and decrease job opportunities for native-born citizens.
Second, immigrants are not more likely to participate in a crime. Among those pushing forward the portrayal of immigrants as lawbreakers, is our current president, who said in 2015 that, “people that are from all over...are killers and rapists and they’re coming into this country.” Many others agree, but in actuality, their beliefs are misguided and untrue, as research has shown. One New York Times article covered the findings of a 2012 report on the effects of immigrants. It found that in “rural counties that experienced an influx of immigrants in the 1980s and ’90s, crime rates dropped by more than they did in rural counties that did not see high immigrant growth.” The research also found that murder became less frequent in these high-immigrant areas. This shows that, in these cases, immigrants are not causing high crime rates. An article published by Teaching Tolerance, which aims to eradicate prejudice and improve relations among Americans, noted that statistics show that a higher percentage of American-born citizens commit serious crimes and are incarcerated than immigrants. This is significant because it shows clearly that the problem lies not with immigrants but with America as a whole. In addition, this study also found that areas with high percentages of immigrants had less violence than areas with lower percentages. It highlighted sanctuary counties, noting that they had an “average (of) 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people compared to non-sanctuary counties.” Both of these sources show that immigrants do not commit more crime than anyone else. It is unfair and incorrect to blame immigrants on crime in America; it is simply not their fault.
Lastly, the threat of terrorism is not made significantly greater with an increase in immigration. Many terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State Group, have been threatening the United States. Claiming responsibility for unrelated terrorist attacks in the US has caused widespread fear among citizens. It is for this reason, I believe, that native citizens have come to assume that immigrants are more likely to be terrorists. This conclusion has been based on fear and not fact. Actually, statistics show that more native-born Americans commit acts of terrorism than immigrants. Hypothetically, let’s consider the typical immigrant. Many come from war-torn areas or countries where they do not have the same rights and privileges as we do. They have come either legally, having to pass a multitude of extensive tests, or illegally, needing to make a daring cross over a border, risking their own safety. Immigrants rarely have intentions of harming the country that they have worked so hard to enter. Research also shows that few immigrants are terrorists. According to a risk analysis published by Cato Institute, a nonpartisan organization researching public policy, the probability of being killed by an immigrant in an act of terrorism over a 41-year period is about 1 in 3.6 million. Even more astounding, is that the probability of being killed by a refugee terrorist over that period is over 1 in 3.64 billion. As for illegal immigrants, this probability reaches a jaw-dropping 1 in 10.9 billion. The study came to the conclusion that it is 252.9 times more likely to be murdered in a terrorist attack initiated by a US-born than a foreign-born citizen. These are astoundingly low odds, begging the question of why America is so paranoid about the risk of terrorism and the current flow of immigrants into the country. Moving on, the article, “Are Refugees a Source of Terrorism or Crime? A Fact Check of Ongoing Fears and Rumors,” which was published by McClatchyDC, a group of distinguished journalists whose work is viewed by over 40 million people, examines the state of Idaho and its cases of terrorism. According to the study, only two cases of terrorism concerning immigrants have occurred over the past 85 years! In comparison, there are over 3,500 violent crimes in Idaho annually. Obviously, terrorism is not a huge risk, and though it is unrealistic to drop logical safety measures, banning immigration or lessening it significantly would do us little good.
In conclusion, immigrants have minimal negative impact and are virtually blameless in many of the accusations made against them. Research has found that immigration does not decrease wages and job opportunities, increase crime rates, or significantly heighten the risk of terrorism. With all of these unjust allegations against immigrants debunked, we are free to fully examine immigration and the full extent of its power to improve America. Nearly everyone in the country is descended from immigrants. Our ancestors, coming from another land, saw the potential of our nation. These immigrants and the generations after them, through hard work and determination, have gradually built the nation. We are a country of immigrants; the “Great Melting Pot”. In the great words of George Washington, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges.” It is with these words that I leave you, reader. The Founding Fathers saw immigration as the foundation of the American dream. Do you?
Abigail K., an apprehensive seventh-grader