Embrace immigration

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy

Embrace change. This is a phrase I have seen and heard countless times throughout my life; either from my parents growing up, or from counselors in high school desperately trying to keep students from acting out under duress from all the pressure they faced.

Yet, I constantly see this advice go unheeded.


In recent years, our country has loosened its belt, figuratively, when it comes to immigration. Unfortunately, this has caused noticeable outcry from the public, even though the number of illegal border crossings in recent years have been the lowest we’ve seen since the 1970s, according to a CNN article.  Immigration, legal or not, is not a new occurrence by any means, and we should be embracing it rather than denouncing it. If we truly are the greatest country in the world, we should be able to welcome anyone.

One problem with the debate over immigration in the United States is that there is a lot of false information both sides commonly use. First of all, one common argument used in support of immigration is the idea that immigrants take jobs Americans don’t want.  However, according to census bureau data collected by the Center for Immigration Studies, out of the 472 “civilian” occupations analyzed, only six were filled by a majority of immigrants.

Moreover, these six occupations account for less than one percent of the national workforce, and native citizens still accounted for 46 percent of total workers in these occupations. Even the occupations commonly stereotyped to be “immigrant” jobs (housekeeper, construction labor, janitor) are all filled by a majority of native workers. This being said, immigrants are indeed working alongside natives in a variety of occupations, but not in competition. While it is ridiculous to think that a sharp increase in immigration wouldn’t have some effect of wages and employment, controlled growth would have no negative effects. The economy is too dynamic to be thought about in a “jobs taken, jobs lost” sense. Immigrant workers, legal or not, complement American workers, rather than compete with them.

On the other side, many people against immigration ignore the positive effects immigrants have had on our country. Yes, immigrants come for jobs, but they are also consumers. It seems to be either forgotten or ignored that the influx of new working citizens we receive from immigration also require the same amount of services and resources any American does. Immigrants greatly benefit our economy simply by joining it.

Extra manpower and time is necessary to cater to their needs, which in turn requires more people to be hired or new businesses to be created. In a sense, immigrants are job creators themselves. They start businesses, work in practically any industry and sometimes live beyond their means, just like anybody. This large economic benefit should not be pushed to the side of the immigration debate.

Additionally, I believe that we ethically cannot restrict immigration much at all. What have immigrants done that is so horrible that they should not be allowed to enter our country? They were born somewhere else? I know this idea is a bit clichéd in some circles, but borders are only a construct of man.

For example, if I were to step from Arizona into the Mexican area of Sonora, would my annual income magically drop over 16 thousand dollars?   The rhetorical nature of this question demonstrates how ridiculous the concept of borders is. We shouldn’t be turning away people based on their place of origin. America is commonly touted as the “Land of Opportunity,” and if things are as free and equal as claimed, this opportunity we offer should be available for all.

Might we be reminded that none of us are truly native? We pretty much obliterated the culture of the people who could call themselves “native.” My father’s side of the family arrived in the 1950s, my mother’s side arrived less than seventy years before that, and I would bet that most people’s ancestry is similar. So really, the only leg we “natives” are standing on is that we got here first. Isn’t “I got here first” a rather childish argument to use when it comes to where people wish to make a life?

Our country was built by immigrants. While leaving immigration unrestricted is economically unrealistic (though ethically ideal), the arguments against allowing it are thin at best and bear no fruit. Immigration contributes to the wondrous diversity of these States, and if we are to follow the spirit of our forefathers, we should welcome them with gratitude rather than grimace.

Sean Kennedy is an undeclared freshman who is proudly of Irish and Norse descent. Love and hate can be sent to letters@collegian.com.


In Brief:

Illegal immigration rates are the lowest that they’ve been in a long time, not that anyone would know.

Our level of opportunity should be accessible to all.

None of us are natives ourselves, and we should welcome immigrants.