The Impact of Immigration on Contemporary American Society

Instructor: Michael Gott

Mike is a veteran of the New Hampshire public school system and has worked in grades 1-12. He has a Master's of Education specializing in Social Studies.

The United States is a 'Nation of Immigrants,' and always has been. This lesson will examine the perception of immigrants on the U.S. as well as the actual effect.

What Do You See

Americans have drastically different views of immigration in the United States. The easiest way to break down these views is by political affiliation. 54 % of Republicans say immigration makes the country worse. This is in strict contrast to 31% of Democrats who say immigration makes the country a better place, and 12% say it has little effect on the country at all. Does this hold true for you? This article will focus on the two major immigrant concerns in the US; economics and crime, as well as efforts made by the U.S. to stem illegal immigration.

Basic Figures on Immigration

In 2014, the immigrant population in the US was 13% of the population at roughly 42 million people. This is an increase of one million from the previous year. It is important to understand that, according to the 14th amendment, children born in the U.S. are citizens, regardless of who their parents are. During this year, 1.3 million immigrants entered the U.S. both legally and illegally. Most arrived from China, followed by Mexico and Canada. This is an 11% increase from 2013.

Impact on the Economy

To say immigration has a negative or positive effect on the economy is too simplistic. Depending on who you are determines whether immigration is good for you economically or not. If you do not have a high school diploma, immigration, especially undocumented immigrants will hurt you financially.

Undocumented immigrants refer to people who have no legal status in the U.S. People from Mexico make up roughly half of the undocumented immigrant population. Wages for Americans without high school diplomas are estimated to be six percent lower because of competition from immigrants.

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, rises as a result of immigration. The GDP is a quantitative dollar figure that represents all goods and services produced within a country. With the number of workers in the U.S. rising, the GDP will rise as well. A GDP increase is generally viewed as a positive effect on the economy, however when the work force rises as well it is neither positive nor negative.

Between 2006 to 2012, 40% of new technology companies have at least one foreign born board member, and in 2011 28% of new small businesses were owned by an immigrant. New companies create new jobs, which is good for the economy. New consumers are also good for an economy.

Impact on Crime

The undocumented immigrant population in the U.S. has tripled between 1990 and 2013. During this time period, the violent crime rate has dropped by 48%. A native-born American is more likely to commit a violent crime and/or be incarcerated than an immigrant. That is not to say there are no immigrant criminals.

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