Please outline the social benefits and costs of immigration.

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kapokkid's profile pic

kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I'd add to the previous post that immigration makes us more of everything, not just hispanic, and this is a very good thing.  Unfortunately as Americans, we have a tendency to think that the way we do things is the right way and that everyone ought to change to fit our lifestyle, philosophy, etc.  I remember laughing when a commentator talked about how they hoped people in China would stop paying cash for things and start using credit cards, etc., to become better "consumers."

My point is that the influx of people who think differently, speak a different language, approach life differently than us is very good in making us more cosmopolitan.  Perhaps if we get enough immigration we will stop being the only country in the world where people aren't seriously learning a second language (and using it).  Perhaps we will become more aware of other cultures and find solutions to some of our problems in looking to other societies that perhaps have wrestled with the same questions.

Economically it does provide a more youthful workforce, continues population growth, etc., but I tend to think the social benefits are even greater.

brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I'd like to add some benefits not yet mentioned in previous posts.

1)  Immigrants do actually pay taxes - those with functional Social Security numbers file income tax returns like everyone else.  It's true that some do not pay income taxes and work under the table, but all of them pay sales taxes, gas taxes, property taxes through rent, and Social Security and Medicare taxes that are taken out of their checks.  Keep in mind that for Social Security and Medicare, they will never see those benefits, but they pay into them every month.  So they are actually helping us to keep those programs solvent, as without their tax contributions, they would be farther in the hole in the next 20 years

2)  Much of the food you buy in the stores is cheaper because of immigrant labor.  They work the difficult and sometimes dangerous work in fields and factories for less money and no benefits, while American workers turn those jobs down.  Because production and harvest costs are lower, the savings are passed along to us at the supermarket and store, where we essentially get a tax break of savings every time we make a purchase.

3)  There is an increased load put on social service agencies, schools, and the health care system, but as stated earlier, they already pay taxes for some of these services.

4)  Some of the best minds in history have come to us through immigration.  Albert Einstein, for one. They bring their intelligence, and art and culture and talent to us and we see the benefits, though they might be under the surface of what we would notice.

besure77's profile pic

besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Immigrants bring many social benefits and costs to the United States. According to the Public Policy Institute of California the influx of immigrants between 1990 and 2004 actually increased pay rates of those individuals who were native to the United States.

Another study conducted by the Immigration Policy Center in Washington D.C. showed that immigrants have lower incarceration rates as well. This means fewer people in prisons (and there are many). This is good for the economy because it means there are more productive people out in the work force contributing.

Immigrants help the economy to grow. They come to America and purchase good and services. For example, they may start new businesses which also stimulates the economy.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I see two major benefits that the US gets from immigration.

First, we continually renew our labor force.  As our "native" population ages, it is important to get more young workers.  Immigration helps with that.  Japan, for example, is in demographic trouble as its population ages and it gets more or less no immigration.

Second, it adds to our economy people who are, in general, very motivated to be here and to work hard.

The major costs that some people see are

First, immigration changes the character of our society and makes us less American and more Hispanic.

Second, immigrants are said to cost too much because they use social services and do not pay taxes.

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