Factcheck.org, a project of the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center, has an enlightening article today on the effect of immigration (legal or not) on economic growth and jobs creation. The fact is, immigration creates jobs, increases wages for just about everybody, and actually has far more positive overall cultural influences than negative ones.
It's quite fashionable on both the Left and the Right to demonize illegal immigrants as the cause of a declining middle class or the rise in unemployment. This hysteria is actually long-standing reaction to the waves of immigrants which have created the rich and diverse culture that is the United States of America.
I am descended from immigrants who entered this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were the dirty Irish, the dangerous Catholic Italians and sub-human Eastern European Jews. They were called “a menace to our Anglo Saxon civilization.” These days it's the immigrants from Mexico and Central America who are supposedly stealing our jobs and destroying our culture.
But just like the people who hated my grandparents because they came from non-Anglo-Saxon stock and brought strange religious and cultural traditions, today's xenophobes are just plain wrong. As David Griswold noted a few months back in the conservative Jewish magazine Commentary, "today’s low-skilled Hispanic migrants are victims of a stereotype unsupported by the preponderance of evidence."
We need immigration reform, desperately. We need to secure our borders and enforce the law, to be sure. But we need reform rooted in immigration policies which include a path to citizenship-- and which are a powerful economic stimulus for everybody, immigrant or not.
The next time someone tries to tell you that "illegal immigrants are stealing our jobs," tell them to check their facts. And if it's a political candidate pandering for the anti-immigrant xenophobe vote, tell them that you're voting for somebody who will create jobs and stimulate the economy, not somebody who will try to undermine it. God knows, we've had enough of that already.