Immigration is a term that describes someone who relocates to a foreign country with the intention of residing there permanently. Immigration can have both a positive and negative impact on a country. This is evident in history. Below are examples of both positive and negative impacts, both historically and today:
- Immigrants helped to settle the American West and the Canadian West. For example, immigrants from Eastern Europe traveled far distances to settle in the West and become farmers. It was a long and often arduous journey that most people did not want to endure.
- In East Coast towns and cities, immigrants took low-paying factory jobs. Their work helped fuel the Industrial Revolution.
- Immigration encourages diversity.
- Some immigrants come from war-torn countries or places where there is extreme poverty. This was true historically, and is still true today. Immigration gave them opportunities that they may not have had before.
- Historically, some immigrant groups have been slow to assimilate. This can be viewed as both negative and positive.
- Often, immigrants bring different views and social mores to a country. These views and norms can sometimes conflict with those of the culture and laws in their new country.
- Criminals can enter a country through immigration and break laws in their new country.
- Economists often debate about the impacts of immigration on the economy. In the modern economy, immigrants frequently take low-wage jobs. If they are working illegally, they are paid in cash and not taxed. Immigrants working illegally use government services (such as schools), but do not contribute income tax dollars to support them.
Much of the debate today in the United States centers around immigrants from Central and South America. Those who work illegally in the US take undocumented jobs with low pay. An example of this is farm workers. Many native people do not want to accept pay that is less than minimum wage. Despite this, there is debate about a lack of contribution of tax dollars from undocumented workers.
There are several arguments amongst Americans about immigrants taking jobs that otherwise would be done by native workers. Immigrants who legally can work in the US may have jobs that might be more desirable to a larger number of people. Some economists argue that immigrants and poorly educated, low-skill native workers have to compete for the same jobs. This increases the pool of applicants and makes it more difficult for both groups to get hired. Also, it makes it so that there is a larger pool of unemployed low-skill workers with no college education (both native and non-native) and smaller pools of workers for higher-paying jobs with higher skill requirements. Some economists argue that this creates an imbalance in the economy. Over the last decade, there have been reports of higher job growth for non-native workers than native workers. These are some of the reasons why there is debate about immigrant workers taking jobs from native workers.