Immigrants continue to contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of the United States in the 21st century. They function not only as workers, but also as consumers, a phenomenon that tends to increase employment overall. They tend to pay more in taxes than they use up in social services. Immigrants also have a tendency to be entrepreneurial, either because of their nature, or because they are forced to by economic circumstances. Many immigrants bring needed investment capital into the United States, or succeed in generating community or family-based capital for their businesses.
Many Americans who do not know any better lump together all immigrants in the “unskilled” category. This prejudice ignores the fact that many immigrants who come to the United States are well educated, highly motivated, and often highly skilled in essential professions, healthcare as one example. In the realm of agriculture, which depends heavily on immigrant labor, immigrant workers bring a level of energy and surprising skill that native-born Americans cannot easily match. Americans want to enjoy the agricultural bounty, but they will not work in the orchards or the fields. In technological areas, the nation’s great hope for the “new economy,” the immigrant presence is absolutely essential.
Rather than displace an American worker, an immigrant may well take a job that would instead go unfilled. Rather than compete with an American entrepreneur, an immigrant may well found a commercial establishment that otherwise would be an empty storefront. In today’s America, as always, immigration is an essential component of economic growth. Socially and culturally, immigrants also contribute to the rich ethnic mix that has always brought vitality to American life.
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